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The youth participating in the Mission Trip to Nicaragua invite you to join them in spirit each day of their journey, praying and meditating together. Throughout the trip, we'll be posting photos and updates here as well.

5 July  To Be a Pilgrim

There’s no discouragement
Shall make us once relent
Our first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim. --
John Bunyan
 
What is a pilgrimage?
On the surface, a pilgrimage looks a lot like other kinds of trips we may take. There’s the excitement of packing, the flight, the new people and the new scenery. There are opportunities to learn, to explore, to have fun.  But a pilgrimage is a different kind of journey, because the primary goal of a pilgrim is not to relax or have fun:  the primary goal is to encounter God.

 Oftentimes, pilgrimages take people to major shrines, like the shrine of our patron, St. James, in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, or St. Peter’s in Rome. Our pilgrimage will take us to the NPH Orphanage in Jinotepe, Nicaragua. There, we will encounter God in and through the young people we meet. May our eyes be open to God’s presence in them and in each other. Then we will truly be pilgrims.
 
Wisdom from Pope Francis
“The poor have much to teach us. . . . in their difficulties they know the suffering Christ. We need to let ourselves be evangelized by them.”
 
Prayer intentions for today
Let us pray for the safety of our travelers.  Let us also pray for a fruitful encounter with the NPH community in Jinotepe, Nicaragua, that all of us may come to deeper faith and a new awareness of what unites us.


 
6 July  Praying with St. James
 
Whether we are at home or away
we aspire to please the Lord

(2 Corinthians 5:9)
 
Saint James—Patron of Seattle and of Jinotepe
Our own patron saint, St. James the Greater, or Santiago, is also the patron saint of the city of Jinotepe. Legend has it that hundreds of years ago, a Spanish galleon was in danger of breaking apart as it was being tossed about in a storm near the Nicaraguan coast. The crew was ordered to lighten the load of the ship by throwing extra weight overboard, and when two very large crates were tossed in the ocean, the sea miraculously became calm. The crates eventually drifted to shore where they were discovered by two salt harvesters. When they opened the first crate, it revealed a statue of Santiago; when they closed the crate, it glowed with a halo of light. The salters resolved to take the crates to nearby churches, and no one was able to remove the image of Santiago from the cart until it arrived at the church in Jinotepe, where it was adopted as the patron. Statues of St. James and other saints are carried through the streets of Jinotepe every year in July during the festival of Santiago.

Wisdom from Pope Francis
“An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances . . . and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others. “
 
Prayer intentions for today
St. James is our patron saint, and the patron saint of Jinotepe, too.  Let us ask St. James to pray for us, that we may have his strong faith and his enthusiasm and courage in sharing his love for Christ with others.


 
7 July  Called
 
As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew
sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, "Follow me."
 (Matthew 9:9)
 
Called where we are
The Gospel reading for Mass today is the call of St. Matthew. Notice where Matthew is when Jesus calls him: “at the customs post.” Matthew is a tax collector. To make things worse, Matthew is collecting taxes for the Romans, the hated occupying power. Many people would have looked upon Matthew as a traitor to his own people. But Jesus calls him—not just to repent, but to become a disciple.

 Jesus does not wait until we are perfect to call us to discipleship. Jesus calls us when we are sinners. And there’s more. Jesus is not content with saving us and moving on. Jesus wants us to follow in his footsteps. Jesus wants every sinner to repent—and he wants our help in building the Kingdom. So what are we waiting for?
 
Wisdom from Pope Francis
“We are called to find Christ in the poor, to lend our voice to their causes, but also to be their friends, to listen to them, to speak for them and to embrace the mysterious wisdom which God wishes to share with us through them.”
 
Prayer intentions for today
"Vocation” means “calling.” Let us pray that we may listen and watch for the call of God in our lives and discover our true vocation. Let us pray for all young people, that we may realize our full potential, grow into our “best selves,” and become the people God calls us to be, and thus make a real difference in the world.

8 July  Our Lady of Nicaragua
 
Lady, full and overflowing with grace,
all creation receives new life from your abundance.

(St. Anselm)
 
Holy Shouting
One of the most beloved images of Mary in Nicaragua is known as Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception of El Viejo.  According to tradition, Rodrigo de Cepeda Ahumada, the brother of St. Teresa of Avila, brought the image—given to him by his saintly sister—with him when he visited Central America in the 16th century.  When he was transferred to Peru, he meant to bring the statue along, but there was one delay after another until Pedro realized that the Virgin wanted to stay in Nicaragua.  He left the image behind, and she has remained in Nicaragua ever since.  On the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, there is a tradition called the Gritería, the Shout, as people set up elaborate home altars, visible to passers-by.  Those outside shout, “Who is the cause of our joy?” and those inside shout back, “Mary’s conception!”  Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is the patroness of Nicaragua.
 
Wisdom from Pope Francis
“Mary is the missionary who draws near to us and accompanies us throughout life, opening our hearts to faith by her maternal love. As a true mother, she walks at our side, she shares our struggles, and she constantly surrounds us with God’s love.  Through her many titles, often linked to her shrines, Mary shares the history of each people which has received the Gospel and she becomes a part of their historic identity.”
 
Prayer intentions for today
Mary is a model of joyful discipleship for all of us.  Let us ask Our Lady to pray for us, that we might share generously with others the joy of knowing Christ.

9 July  Sunday
 
"I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to little ones.“

(Matthew 11:25)
 
Learning from Children
In the Gospel reading for today, we get a chance to “listen in” as Jesus prays to his Father. He prays in thanksgiving for the way God has turned human patterns upside down. God’s wisdom is not like ours. It is not something to be figured out, but rather something God reveals:  and thus the experts, “the wise and the learned,” are left in the dark, while “little ones”—children and the childlike—are in on the secret.

In the days we’ve spent at NPH so far, have you seen this Gospel passage fulfilled?  What wisdom do these children possess that others—including ourselves—seem to lack?
 
Wisdom from Pope Francis
“From the first moments of their lives, some children are rejected, abandoned, and robbed of their infancy and future. There are those who say it is a mistake to bring these children into the world, due to their fragility, and the hunger and poverty they suffer. But children are never a mistake, and their sufferings are only reasons for us to love them even more.”
 
Prayer intentions for today
We pray for all children, especially those who experience mental, emotional, or physical suffering from an early age. May all children, without exception, have access to the basic necessities of life: love and community, healthy food, clean water, education, and health care.

10 July  Nicaragua, land of Saints
 
Those who lead the many to justice
shall be like the stars forever

(Daniel 12:3)
 
Blessed María, Pray for Us
María Romero Meneses was born in Granada, Nicaragua, on 13 January 1902.  One of eight children, she was a bright student and a gifted artist.  After she was cured of a dangerous illness through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, she decided to dedicate herself to the service of God.  She joined the Salesian Sisters.  At first, she taught art and music to wealthy girls in an exclusive school in Costa Rica.  But she felt called to service of the poor, and began visiting the barrios, seeking out children who were oppressed, marginalized, or abused.   Eventually she dedicated herself entirely to this work.  She died on 7 July 1977 at Leòn, Nicaragua. Blessed María, pray for us!
 
Wisdom from Pope Francis
“Let us rediscover the corporal works of mercy: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead.”
 
Prayer intentions for today
We become the hands and feet of Jesus when we serve others in need, as Blessed María did.  We pray that God will make us bearers of Christ’s mercy to all we meet today. 
Let us pray for the courage to undertake the works of mercy ourselves, not leaving this essential work to others.

          
11 July  St. Benedict
 
In the reception of the poor and of pilgrims
the greatest care and solicitude should be shown,
because it is especially in them that Christ is received.

(From the Rule of St. Benedict)
 
Prayer and Work
Today the Church honors St. Benedict. He established twelve monastic communities in Italy, and wrote a rule of life for the monks which has had a profound impact on the life of the Church. Benedict’s Rule establishes the basic parameters of monastic life, and has many do’s and don’t’s. But it is also packed with profound spiritual wisdom. We probably imagine monks praying all day in a chapel. But Benedict envisioned a balanced life for his communities, in which a lot of prayer was balanced with a lot of work. The motto of the Benedictines, in fact, is “ora et labora,” Latin for “prayer and work.” And while monasteries were communities that were separated from the world, they were renowned for their hospitality, providing food, welcome, and lodging for any who came to their door. We can all learn from St. Benedict to live lives of prayer, work, and welcome.
 
Wisdom from Pope Francis
“May we reach out to the poor and support them so they can feel the warmth of our presence, our friendship, and our fraternity!”
 
Prayer intentions for today
Let us pray for all who do not have enough to eat, those who suffer malnutrition.  May we work together to find ways to share our bounty with them and relieve the world’s hunger.
Let us also pray for those who are hungry for justice, who are deprived of freedom and opportunity, that they may be satisfied.

12 July  Am I a Missionary?
 
Go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

(Matthew 28:19-20)
 
Missionaries and Native Peoples
For contemporary Christians, it can be challenging to read about the first missionaries in the New World. The first priests accompanied military expeditions bent on subduing the native populations and exploiting the riches of the land. While the missionaries’ goals were very different, all too often the native peoples suffered as their culture and language were suppressed.
     Fray Pedro de Betanzos (d. 1570), born in Galicia, Spain, was one of the first Franciscan missionaries to Nicaragua.  He realized that he would need to learn the language of the people if he wished to share the Gospel with them, and in one short year he mastered three local languages:  Quiche, Kakchiquel, and Zutuhil.  Eventually, he gained fluency in fourteen different languages of the native peoples. 
     We are also called to be missionaries in our own way.  How can we learn from the past?  How can we bring the joy of the Gospel to others in a way that honors their dignity and respects their culture and background?
 
Wisdom from Pope Francis
“The Church which ‘goes forth’ is a community of missionary disciples who take the first step, who are involved and supportive, who bear fruit and rejoice.”
 
Prayer intentions for today
It has been said, “being listened to is so close to being loved that some people can’t tell the difference.”  We ask the Lord to help us to listen carefully and intently to others, as Fray Pedro did, so that we can show them how much they are loved.

13 July  Last Day
 
Do not turn your face away from the poor.
From the needy do not turn your eyes 
(Sirach 4:4b-5a)
 
God’s Preferential Option for the Poor
The social teachings of the Catholic Church pay particular attention to the needs of the poor, what is sometimes called a “preferential option for the poor.” This doesn’t mean that people who are poor are more important than anyone else—God loves us all equally and limitlessly!—but it means that meeting the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society should be considered a top priority. As the U.S. Catholic Bishops have said, “The ‘option for the poor,’ therefore, is not an adversarial slogan that pits one group or class against another. Rather it states that the deprivation and powerlessness of the poor wounds the whole community. The extent of their suffering is a measure of how far we are from being a true community of persons” (Economic Justice for All, #88). We are all one body in Christ, and Jesus calls on us to care most lovingly for our most needy members.
 
Wisdom from Pope Francis
“Let us open our eyes and see the misery of the world, the wounds of our brothers and sisters who are denied their dignity, and let us recognize that we are compelled to heed their cry for help!”
 
Prayer intentions for today
As we return home, let us thank God for our time at NPH, and for this opportunity to learn from them about what it means to love others.  We will continue to hold them in our prayers and in our hearts!


 
PRAYER FOR EACH DAY

We invite you to join us in praying each day for the orphans
whose lives we will be sharing on this mission trip.
 
Lord God,
Thank you for the NPH family.
Thank you for the surrogate mothers, fathers, sisters,
brothers, aunts, uncles, and grandparents that care for the children.
Give the orphans friends and neighbors who care.
Introduce them to people of passion, mercy, and commitment.
Make them friends with
artists, musicians, priests, jugglers, doctors, and teachers.
 
God, thank you for their daily food…
and thank you also for paintbrushes and soccer balls,
ice cream cones and for sunsets,
for silly games and the freedom to laugh.
Thank you for the tiny moments that hold us all together.
 
God, please help us to change the large forces
that fight against these children.
May governments become their servants.
May education empower them.
May religion be their true advocate.
May war pass over them,
art not forget them,
history remember them.
May medicine be placed in their service
and economies include them equally.
May families of all kinds welcome them.
 
 When they grow up, God,
continue to give them hardships such as these:
the drudgery of house work and the kitchen,
that they may always have homes and food;
the boredom of quiet towns and uneventful cities,
that they may live in places of peace;
the knowledge of their spouse’s faults,
that they may have long and intimate marriages;
the difficulties of raising children
that they may become the mothers and fathers they never had.
Give them forgiveness and generosity,
that they may overcome the circumstances that wounded them.
Give them humor,
that they may have joy and pleasure in all circumstances.
Give them imagination,
that they may have resources and new beginnings at all times.
Give them confidence,
that they may overcome the lie the world tells about them.
And when they are delivered, give them memory,
that they may see the redemption in their story,
and know its importance.
 
God, we thank you for their courage,
and we pray that they would not become numb,
but that they would know, in the pain of their great loss,
a great love, both in giving and receiving. Amen.
 
 
______________________________
 

 





 

 

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