Center for Reconciliation

410 NH Route 4A - PO Box 420 Enfield, NH 03748 

Tel: 603.632.7087 

Fax: 603.632.7648 

Office hours, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. 

Director Fr. John P. Sullivan, M.S.

Open by appointment

Reflections from the Shrine ...


Sunday In The Octave of Easter        Divine Mercy Sunday       April 8, 2018 


      Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. It was a decision made by Saint John Paul II that determined the second Sunday  after Easter to be designated as Divine Mercy Sunday. He did this out of respect for Sister Maria Faustina who had visions of Jesus that stressed  his mercy and his boundless forgiveness of the sins  of his people. The painting in our chapel reflects this vision. We see  Jesus pictured with the rays of light coming from his heart - a red glow and a white glow. We associate the red with the Sacrament of the Eucharist where Jesus shed his blood on the cross for us. The white color represents the Sacrament of Baptism when we  received  the  life of God, the Holy Spirit, in our hearts, our souls,  our whole being.

      All the readings from Scripture today beautifully  portray the mercy of Jesus. In the Gospel we have  Jesus  instituting the Sacrament of his mercy, the Sacrament of Confession: "he breathed on them and said to them,  Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." It is like when God breathed into the clay in the Book of Genesis to create Adam.

      The mercy of God is his greatest attribute. Part of the Great Commandment is to love  one another as Jesus  has  first loved us. The extraordinary expectation of Jesus is that we have the same mercy with one another as he has first shown compassion toward us.

      The words of Jesus to forgive one another their sins is not just for priests or seminarians in preparation on the way to priesthood. It is meant for each of us,  to  forgive one another as Jesus has first forgiven us. As the reading from the Acts of the Apostles states, we need to  be a community of believers "…….of one heart and mind," in the mind and heart of Jesus himself. That means forgiving the wrongs of our own family  members, our neighbors, or even perfect strangers we may encounter while driving or shopping at the local  store.

      Not once, but three times in today's Gospel, Jesus says: "Peace  be with you."  Those four words can be so powerful as we exchange them each time we participate at Mass at the Sign of Peace. It is a peace much deeper than the absence of war. It  finds  its roots in doing the Father's will that describes the core of Jesus' life and ministry. That is why Jesus can say so confidently  to each of us:  "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." So on this  Divine Mercy Sunday we have our mission: to be merciful to one another as  Jesus has  been merciful to us, trusting in the truly awesome love and forgiveness that God first offers to each one of us.

                                                                Father John Sullivan  M.S.     


      Why are you here? I know you are here to come to Mass. As a good Catholic, you want to participate at Mass.  It is part of your obligation as a Catholic. But I am asking a bigger question. Why are you here in this world? For what reason are you alive and still kicking?

      Do not say it is to watch the super bowl with the Patriots this Sunday. Perhaps that will bring some excitement and enjoyment sharing the game with  family and friends. Really - what is the purpose of your  existence? Why do you have a place in this sometimes confusing but still  beautiful world? It is a fundamental  question we all  need  to answer.

      Jesus has a clear answer to that question in today's Gospel. When Simon and some of his  fellow disciples go out  looking for Jesus early  in the morning to bring him back to their village, he has a clear response.  "He  told them, 'Let us go on to the nearby villages that I  may preach there also.  For this purpose I have  come."  He had success  healing and preaching in one village. The people loved him and probably wanted him to stay. But no, it was time to go, to move  on to other places that needed his compassion and powerful  preaching.

      As one commentary says: "His ministry  is not to  restore bodies to health but to restore spirits to wholeness." Simon's mother-in-law is a good example. He healed her of her fever. However the Scripture continues:  "Then the fever left  her and  she waited on them."  Jesus attended to her physical illness but also restored her desire and  energy to  get up and serve the people in the house of her son-in-law Simon.

      We read of the enthusiasm of Saint Paul in his letter to the Corinthians to be busy about preaching to a whole variety of people, both  weak and strong:  "To the weak I became weak, to win over the  weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some.  All this I do for the sake of the gospel,  so that I too may have a share  in it."

      So I return to that important question: Why are you here?  Perhaps you are not called to preach as a priest from the pulpit with a microphone.  But as  Followers as Jesus are we not all called to preach  the Good  News by the example of  our lives? That is  true - as parents,  teachers, truck drivers, construction workers, students - no matter what is our vocation. Underneath it all, that is our purpose in life.

      Perhaps, especially as Lent approaches we too, like Jesus,  need to get away to "a deserted  place" to think and pray about that question. Why am I here?  What is the purpose of my life?

      As Lent quickly approaches, I plan on offering a Scripture reflection again, on the Mass readings, on Tuesday mornings in the cafeteria from 10 AM to 11:30AM with a coffee and snack included. If you would like to be part of it, mark your calendars and plan to attend. It will begin on the morning of February 27th and end on March 27th.

                                                                                 Father John Sullivan M.S.       


      A few weeks ago, on January 15th, we  celebrated the memory of Martin Luther  King. When he  stood up to speak, whether it  was at the Lincoln Memorial  where he gave his famous  "I have a Dream" speech or a Baptist  Church in Montgomery, Alabama,  people were quiet and listened. That was  because  he spoke with authority; he practiced what he preached; as  Alcoholics Anonymous says: "He did  not just talk the talk,  but he walked the walk."

      In the opening lines of today's Gospel we read:  "The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as  one  having authority  and not as  the scribes."  What was the difference between Jesus and the Scribes?  They knew the  Scriptures in their  minds and  they could  preach about  it with clarity. But often they said one thing and practiced another.  There was division between their words and their actions.

      But not with Jesus.   Even in the synagogue, a place of prayer, there  was a man with an unclean spirit.  Jesus healed him with his  brief but powerful words: "Quiet!  Come out of him." In this way  Jesus  showed the compassion of God, in both Word and deed.

        Again on the question of the great authority of Jesus, we read:  "All were amazed and  asked one another, what is this? A new  teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and  they obey  him."

      That is  because Jesus is the real deal. There  is nothing  false or duplicitous about  him. He practices what he preaches and preaches what he practices.  That is  true where ever he is,  whether in the Synagogue in Capernaum or on the hillside multiplying loaves of bread for the people to  have their strength with food  for the journey home. It is also with all types of people, be it his own disciples or the poor,  the lame, and the blind.

      Jesus gives us the tremendous challenge to live with the same  "authority" in our lives. As Christians  we need to ask  Jesus  to  heal the "unclean spirit" in our own lives - the jealousy, the resentments,  the pride  - that can so easily separate us  not only from God  but also from the people that are important to us.  Then as the healing continues to take place in our own lives by God's grace,  we are better able to  be messengers of healing to the wounded people that God sends into our lives. The refrain in today's readings  from Psalm 95 says it so well:  "If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts."

      Just a reminder - the beginning of  Lent is  just a few weeks away.  How are you going to use this special  time of penance, prayer and alms giving to grow deeper in your relationship with God  and with others?

                                                                                    Father John Sullivan  M.S.       

Death, Faith, Life

(13th Sunday in Ordinary time: Wisdom 1:13-15 & 2:23-24; 2 Corinthians 8:7-15; Mark 5:21-43)

The Book of Wisdom acknowledges death as an unhappy fact of life. Our Lady of La Salette tearfully acknowledges the death of children in the arms of those who hold them. We, too, understand instinctively that this is not how things were supposed to be.

In today’s Gospel two persons in dire need approach Jesus. Jairus desperately wants his daughter to live. The woman in the crowd has been sick for twelve years and wants to live a normal life. They come to Jesus because they believe in his power to heal.

But their immediate reaction after each of the two miracles is not what we would expect. The sick woman tries to disappear into the crowd, but then feels obliged to come to Jesus “in fear and trembling” to tell him “the whole truth,” as if she feels guilty. Later, when Jesus raises the 12-year-old girl, her parents and the few disciples present are “utterly astounded,” as though they had not really believed it possible.

Does this mean their faith was insincere? By no means. It was real, but perhaps they were also “hoping against hope” (cf. Roman 4:18), like Abraham, the model of faith. This is why Jesus encouraged Jairus: “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”

When the Beautiful Lady enumerated the ills afflicting her people, she wept also over their response to their sufferings. Far from turning to God in faith, they abandoned hope, speaking blasphemies when they should have been saying prayers.

Mary’s tears reflect the words from Wisdom, “God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.” We find the same in Ezekiel 33:11, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.” She wanted her people to understand that “God’s anger lasts but a moment; a lifetime, his good will,” as we read in today’s Psalm.

When we are open to experiencing God’s good will, especially in hard times, we can live again, and join the Psalmist (and the sick woman, and Jairus) in singing, “You changed my mourning into dancing; O Lord, my God, forever will I give you thanks.”

Very Rev. Rene’ Butler, M.S.

Imperfect Faith

(Second Sunday of Easter: Acts 4:32-35; 1 John 5:1-6; John 20:19-31)

The end of Chapter 4 of the Acts of the Apostles paints a picture of the first Christians as a perfect society. Chapter 5, however begins with the story of a couple who tried to perpetrate a fraud on the community, and Chapter 6 describes quarrels over the distribution of the donations brought to the apostles.

And in the Gospel, we find Thomas refusing to trust the other apostles.

This is not so surprising. Even today there are strong differences of opinions, and sometimes conflicts, among Christians. These have led to tragic divisions.

We are divided among ourselves because we are divided within ourselves. In other words, all of us are—and each of us is—always in need of conversion and reconciliation. None of us will ever be able to say, Now I’m perfect. But help is always available.

The Christian community in Acts received the grace it needed to overcome situations dangerous to their unity. Thomas received from Jesus himself the help he needed in his moment of crisis.

The first major divisions in the Church had begun in the fourth century, over matters of doctrine. Was Jesus really God? What does the Church believe about the Holy Spirit? The Nicene Creed goes back to those times.

Fast-forward to 1846. The grace of La Salette was given to the Church in response to a new danger, worse even than doctrinal differences. People had stopped caring about such things. They had become indifferent to doctrine, to the commandments, and to the practice of their faith. Either they had rejected these things outright, or they had simply drifted away from them.

Mary was rightly concerned about the impact of all this on her people. They could not afford to sever their relationship with her Son, their Savior.

At Mass, before the sign of peace, we pray, “Look not on our sins but on the faith of your Church.” Our sins and the faith of your Church refer to the same group of people. We are sinners, we are Church. These are not mutually exclusive.

Imperfect and weak our faith may be, but it is real and can grow if we will let it. That is the Beautiful Lady’s hope—and ours—as she calls us to reconciliation.

                                                                 Very Rev. Rene’ Butler, M.S.

Ouch!  Father Rene Butler M.S. La Salette Provincial  

Fifth Sunday of Easter: Acts 9:26-31; 1 John 3:18-24; John 15:1-8)

After Saul encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, he remained blind, and had to be led by hand into the city. The Lord sent a certain Ananias to pray over him and restore his sight. Ananias objected, “I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones;” but Jesus answered, “I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.”

In our first reading we see what Jesus meant. Saul is at first shunned by the Christians of Jerusalem; and even once he is accepted by them, the former persecutor is himself persecuted and must flee.

Saul, later known as Paul, would go on to produce abundant fruits of grace. But, as a new branch on the vine of Christ, he had to be pruned. Ouch! that hurts!

No one can be said to enjoy this part of discipleship, but it is inescapable. In the message of Our Lady of La Salette, her first words after calling the children to her, are, “If my people refuse to submit…” Submit? Ouch! No , thank you.

But when St. John tells us to love in deed and in truth, isn’t he saying fundamentally the same thing? It is easy to utter loving words, but putting love into practice puts serious demands on us. We are to love one another as Jesus commanded us.

Jesus presents the same thought in a very different way: “Remain in me as I remain in you... Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither,...thrown into a fire.” Ouch!

It was clear to Our Lady that her people had not remained in her Son. Like any mother who sees her children not living in harmony, she was pained by  the situation, and decided to do something about it, in order to ease their suffering

In the message of our heavenly Queen, there is much that can cause us pain and remorse. It is meant to be medicinal, its goal is healing.

We are in the Easter season, but did you notice that our responsorial Psalm is the same one as on Palm Sunday? Today we have the joyful conclusion of that Psalm, such a contrast to its opening cry of despair. Another Psalm puts it more concisely: “At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing.”