Archive for January, 2011

A tribute to our confirmation students and the retreat team at St. Luke the Evangelist Parish

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Rich and I came home from the second of two retreat weekends for our confirmation students only a few hours ago. These weekends are so packed, so intense, and it just wears us both out both physically and emotionally. I feel poured out as I’m sure he does too. But we both agree it is one of the most rewarding things that we do for our faith.

The first weekend was back at the beginning of January. It was the first time for me and the whole experience just blew me away. I couldn’t even write about it even though I wanted to. There was just too much to sift through. This time around, I feel very raw emotionally.  A few moments ago I lay on my bed petting my cat having just finished a conversation with our grown son about how extraordinary the retreat was and how I wished he could have seen it. A life of faith committed to the church is still not for him which is his prerogative right now, but after he left the room, all I could do was lie on my bed and weep. At first it was for him but it quickly included everyone who cannot yet see. A wave of nausea swept over me as the tears ran down and I thought of everyone who is blinded by the lies of this world to the truth of God.

I know that God has laid on my heart this burden of praying for conversion, it is something very dear to me. I pray for my children constantly every day, and other family members pretty regularly. But today I felt that burden spread to include everyone, especially young people, and I want to commit myself to praying for them as I pray for my own children.

And why is this? Because I have been a witness to radical faith. Although I’ve read the scriptures over the years and have see it in luminaries such as Mother Teresa, the truth really came home to me through the people I know and love in my home parish, St. Luke the Evangelist in Westborough, MA. In a time when all you hear about is what the Catholic Church is doing wrong, I want to announce to the world that here at St. Luke’s it is being done right.

Our parish knows how to develop the talents of its people. We don’t hire professionals to come in to run our retreats; we instead call upon volunteers in our parish to give the talks, run the small groups, conduct prayer services, do the ice breakers, provide the live music and listen to the young people. Some people have been on this retreat team for over 10 years, giving up 2 weekends every January to help our confirmation students meet God in a powerful and authentic way. Besides the older adults which populate the team, St. Luke’s also has the wisdom to bring in peers from nearby Assumption College to assist in the same way.  These students are deeply committed to their faith and give such a powerful witness of how it is indeed possible to be a young person in today’s society and also be a follower of Jesus.

There were many talks given over the weekend, all powerful mainly in their raw honesty and authenticity. People shared deeply from their lives, often telling stories of great courage in navigating the often messy and stormy nature of everyday living by remaining close to Christ. There were no pat answers here, no “just follow Jesus and your life will be happy and carefree every day.” Our Lord never promised that life would be easier by having faith; in fact He pointed out that often it would be a lot harder. How could we have it easy when He carried His cross for us and died on it to reunite us with the Father? What He did promise is that He would always be beside us. There is no getting away from enduring suffering in order to get to the better place on the other side, whether it be here on earth, or in heaven, but our advantage as believers is to have our eternal Friend by our side, gently guiding us.

Each member of the team demonstrated a faith that is living, vibrant and totally integrated into every fiber of their being. Both adult and student members shared deeply from their hearts, allowing the confirmation students to see them as they really are – flawed, sometimes weak, wounded but full of faith, love and deep joy in knowing Jesus Christ.

As I am still new to the team, I mostly observed though I did provide some music and helped with a prayer service. But the message is coming through loud and clear to me what God is calling me to, and that is a radical living of my own faith. I could feel Him gently pointing out to me how I micromanage the Holy Spirit in my life. He did that by showing me how much I obsessed over the weekend over having everything just so – rearranging the furniture in my room so that it would most resemble my bedroom at home, constantly clinging to my bag that I kept with me which contained my glasses, iTouch, moisturizer for my lips, water bottle, instant coffee and throat lozenges . . . heaven forbid I should not have everything I need for my instant comfort! I obsessed too over having the time to warm up my singing voice so I could provide good quality singing – heaven forbid I should hit a wrong note! In all these things, I could see that I was not willing to give myself over totally to Jesus and trust in His care. If I was obsessing over such small and meaningless stuff, how could I possibly be truly open to what He wanted to do through me? I really got the message loud and clear that I need to let go a whole lot more and stop trying to micromanage the Spirit. As a team, we were asking these kids to let go of their cares and openly trust in the Spirit. I even did a prayer service where I asked the kids to imagine a kitchen table loaded with stuff, and then taking their arm and gently sweeping everything off the table. I was telling them to try it but was unwilling or unable to try it myself.

Now my heart burns with desire to be like so many of the team members who live their faith so radically. How fortunate I am to be surrounded by such extraordinary people, such wonderful examples of true discipleship. And it starts from the top down, beginning with our pastor whose whole life is one constant prayer, to the youth minister who loves so unconditionally, constantly pouring herself out, to my husband who has dedicated his life in service to the Church as a deacon.

I salute every extraordinary member of the St. Luke’s confirmation retreat team, and the wonderful students of Assumption College. I have received such powerful examples of what it means to be a radical follower of Jesus, and I want to follow right after you.

And what of the young people who were on retreat with us? I observed how open they were to receiving the message. They listened attentively, worked hard, and bonded with each other in the course of the 2-1/2 days. They gave up their weekend, leaving behind their worries about school, their boyfriends or girlfriends, their peers, even their cell phones. These kids were willing to listen and to experience the power of the Holy Spirit. They are now part of my heart and I want to hold them close and pray for them that the seeds planted this weekend will grow. The battle began for them the minute they left with retreat center with so many pressures pressing on them from family, peers, school, and society. I want to commit myself to praying for them constantly as I do for my own children.

I hope that by making this public confession that I can live out my commitment to pray for them and to follow the example of my own peers at St. Luke’s, living more radically for Jesus. I hope I can learn to step aside and let the Spirit truly lead. Lord Jesus, with Your help and Your grace, may each succeeding day be a footstep closer to that goal.

Endurance – reflection on readings for Friday, Jan. 30, 2011

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Today’s readings
Hebrews 10:32-39, Psalm 37:3-6,23-24,39-40; Mark 4:26-34

“You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised.”

So says verse 36 of today’s first reading from Hebrews. That line stuck out at me because I heard something very similar today while praying the rosary while vocalizing the spiritual fruits of the fourth and fifth sorrowful mysteries – “patience” and “final perseverance.” Both “patience” and “perseverance” are listed as synonyms of the word “endurance.” And just what does “endurance” mean? Here’s the dictionary definition:

  1. the fact or power of enduring or bearing pain, hardships, etc.
  2. the ability or strength to continue or last, esp. despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; stamina: He has amazing physical endurance.
  3. lasting quality; duration: His friendships have little endurance.
  4. something endured, as a hardship; trial.

In this reading from Hebrews, Paul is admonishing the people to maintain their fervor for Christ. He cites how they had been willing to suffer together for the faith: “You even joined in the sufferings of those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, knowing that you had a better and lasting possession.” (verse 34). Now they are letting that fervor slide – the passion has faded, the newness has worn off, and it’s time for the long term battle.

In The Word Among Us today, the meditation speaks of our relationship with Christ as being more like a marriage rather than a brief romance. A relationship that culminates into marriage begins with great passion, but as the years go on, the passion may fade but a deeper love takes its place. This love is willing work to keep the marriage alive, whereas passion runs at the first sign of trouble.

In the Sorrowful Mysteries of the rosary, Jesus is going to his death. He is first beset with anxiety so great that He prays to His heavenly Father that the hour would pass without Him having to drink of the cup. He is then betrayed, flogged, mocked, spat upon and crowned with thorns. Utterly humiliated and deeply wounded, He is then forced to carry a heavy cross, the tool for his execution, and He is crucified, dying the lowliest and most painful of deaths in public with most of his friends fleeing the scene.

Jesus knew the meaning of endurance. He also understood that the glory of the resurrection awaited Him after the long hours of suffering.

Mother Teresa also knew the meaning of endurance. After experiencing and obeying her “call within a call” which included a long period of extreme intimacy with Jesus that she described as ecstasy, the Lord seemingly withdrew from her just as she set forth to do His will. She was left empty, desolate, with deep longing and thirst for that intimacy with Jesus to return, but never to see it again in her lifetime. Yet she persevered to the point where the world was totally unaware of her suffering.

Mother Teresa kept her eyes fixed on Jesus – she knew He would lead her home to Him. Even though she was plagued with doubts, she kept on because she knew she had “a better and lasting possession.”

My life is easy these days so I can’t say that it is hard to endure right now. But it wasn’t that long ago that I was in the throws of helping to take care of a sick mother over several years, often careening from one crisis to the next. I thought of it the other day during yet another snowstorm on the east coast, and how hard it used to be when my mother lived at home and we had these snowstorms, worrying about how she would be cared for. I had a pit in my stomach for a moment, remembering those times.

There are small things to endure, such as over 3 feet of snow on the ground with huge piles all over the place, making the world feel very closed in. The seemingly endless act of shoveling yesterday was an act of endurance! :-)

St. Paul is right. If we can just keep our eyes fixed on the “prize” as he calls it (our home in heaven with Jesus), and really believe it will be there after going through the trials of this life, somehow the burden becomes lighter. Knowing that Jesus Himself went through it and allowing Him to carry the burden for me as He so longs to do, makes that burden lighter. If I have asked for prayers and I know people are praying, I can feel the burden growing lighter, making it bearable.

Passion is great, it’s fun, and it’s fleeting. The patient love that St. Paul is calling for from the Hebrews is the love that will save us. It saved Mother Teresa, it can save us too.

Following up on the healing

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

As you may recall from my last post, my singing voice was healed through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary while singing the rosary. I also mentioned that a lot of the healing was psychological, that in fact, through her intercession, God showed me how I could sing so as not to damage my voice – He opened my mind to the proper techniques. Yesterday at mass, I had to put all of that to the test.

Normally I sing with a partner, Kathleen (who is a dream partner, by the way). She plays piano beautifully, has a nice clear voice and we work really well together. I lean on her a lot. Yesterday she could not be with me, so this first test of singing had to be done solo.

At first I was terrified! Intellectually I knew what to do and my faith told me just to hang on to Jesus like St. Peter did when he started walking on the water. I knew I had to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus to get over my fear.

And again, that voice: “Why don’t you believe?”

The first song, “City of God,” was a little rough! It’s a hard song to start off with and my fear was getting the better of me. But I kept thinking of St. Peter and forced myself to keep my eyes on Jesus.

By the time I sang the responsorial psalm, I knew I was going to make it. After all, I was singing, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, of whom should I be afraid, of whom should I be afraid?” My whole body relaxed and my voice came out nearly without effort.

The rest of the mass went off just fine. I had to pay close attention to technique to make sure the voice was being used properly but it didn’t distract me the way I thought it would. I just kept my eyes on Jesus.

By the end of the mass, I was singing out “We Are Called” in full throttle, happy and tremendously grateful that I had gotten to the other side. I walked on water and Jesus made that possible!

I am therefore very thankful that I lost my voice over the holidays. I’ve learned several important things:

1. Don’t depend on myself alone.
2. Take good care of the gifts I’ve been given by God
3. Stop drowning out my dear partner – we need to sing like a true du0!

Humility. That was the big lesson. And how bitter/sweet it was!

A healing miracle, thanks to Mary’s intercession

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

As I mentioned in my last post regarding St. Marie’s in Manchester, NH, I experienced a healing while praying the rosary and remembering the beautiful altar of this church. That healing took place in my singing voice.

I had mentioned on Facebook that over Christmas I lost my singing voice. It didn’t happen suddenly but came about over a long period of time. I had noticed as I ministered at my parish that my voice was getting weaker and weaker, and I had little control over the vibrato. I am in my mid 50s but my voice was beginning to sound like that of an old woman.

It became extremely stressful singing at mass. I would open my mouth and have no idea what would come out! Sometimes my familiar voice would come out and sometimes a horrible warble would come out. Not fun.

I had forgotten all my training (proper breathing, singing from the diaphragm, etc.) and couldn’t apply technique to solve the problem. I tried doing vocal exercises but eventually I strained it through misuse and had to go on vocal rest with no singing, and quiet (and limited) talking.

I tried to apply what the Lord had shown me about ‘going with the flow’ and letting Him lead, and most of the time, I was okay with that. But occasionally I would panic that my voice was gone forever, or beat myself up because I hadn’t taken proper care of it (which is true). Often I would grieve.

Then last weekend I attended mass at St. Marie’s. The beauty of the interior (see last post for pictures) stayed with me, and I used the memories this past Monday while praying my rosary. And this is when the healing took place.

Before praying the rosary, I had been talking earlier in the day with Deacon David McDowell, a dear friend from Millsboro, Delaware. We were talking about praying to Mary for her intercession and how it feels when we notice her protective mantle around us. I was very inspired by our conversation and so I decided to try to sing my rosary on the way home in my car.

As I began the rosary, I sang it very softly to myself, afraid to strain my voice. The “Hail Mary” portion is particularly difficult for me to sing even under the best of circumstances because of where the notes are situated. Still, I pictured Mary and I kneeling together in front the throne of our Lord in heaven (resembling the altar at St. Marie’s) and it was glorious.  I longed to truly sing my prayers and attempted it but got nowhere. I then felt a prompt by Mary to pray for healing for my voice.

I had not prayed actively for healing since I had lost it and I even hesitated now. I realized that I didn’t believe a healing would happen; I felt responsible for its condition and didn’t believe I deserved a healing.

Still, I felt this voice saying, “Why, why don’t you believe?” At that point I gave in and offered the intention during the rosary. Nearing my destination, I tried to sing it again, but felt afraid to push my voice. And again I felt this prompt from Mary, questioned my fear, and I started to sing.

Suddenly it was like a secret trap door opened inside my throat and a beautiful, strong, confident voice rang out! No weakness, no horrible warble, just a clear, strong voice. It was like I had found a new route to my vocal chords which bypassed all the post nasal drip, the sore throat and strain, and the huskiness.

I knew immediately it was because of Mary’s intercession. I had always had great difficulty singing the Hail Marys and when I recorded it for my Mary, Queen of Peace Meditation Guide & Sung Rosary book and CD, I had prayed for God to show me how to do it. I believe that Mary interceded as it is the rosary, and I was taught the necessary technique through my prayer to sing it properly for the recording. Remembering that experience, I knew it had happened again. Mary took me by the hand and revealed to me the means by which to properly open my throat (as per my training) and let the real voice come out without doing further damage. The healing wasn’t so much physical (although I believe there was some physical healing) as it was psychological.

I wanted to test my voice further so when I got home, I got out my guitar and started singing the songs I’d be doing for mass that weekend, applying this new technique, and truly, my voice was back! I sang my heart out (probably overdid it but I will pamper my voice now till the end of the week) and felt such joy that Mary had interceded for me! I was able again to sing my prayer to God. I went over to a painting I have of her with the Eucharist, touched the painting and thanked her, and God, from the bottom of my heart.

Lesson learned? NEVER deny Jesus a chance to heal you. Had Mary not prompted me to ask, I wouldn’t have asked, and my false pride would have prevented a healing. I can never presume to know the mind and will of the Lord. As usual, I had to step out of the way so He could act. How patient He is with me, and how good He is to me, especially in giving me His beloved Mother as my guide and companion.

You can listen here to the power of prayer which enabled me to sing these prayers to our Lady.

A beautiful church, a wonderful homily, a heavenly liturgy

Monday, January 17th, 2011

I had the privilege of attending liturgy at St. Marie Church in Manchester, NH, the home parish of many members of  Vita Nova, the organization running the women’s retreat that my partner, Ann Wagstaff, I will be leading the weekend of March 11-13. Ann and I were invited to mass at St. Marie’s so we could worship with the retreat team before we had our meeting about the upcoming retreat.

I looked forward to the prospect of attending mass with these wonderful women but I had no idea just how beautiful St. Marie’s was, and I was pleasantly surprised and quite fascinated by the story of this magnificent cathedral, and its phoenix-like rising from the ashes of disrepair and a dying congregation.

This is a church that has been lovingly restored, both physically and spiritually. Approximately 27 years ago, a young 33 year priest was assigned to a dying French parish in the midst of of the city of Manchester. The church building was in desperate need of repair, but the congregation needed a much deeper healing. According to the stories I heard that Sunday, this young paced the altar in the empty church, begging God for an answer and he received a rather unusual answer: hire an evangelist. An evangelist? Where would the money come from? But following the example of Mary, the priest said yes and proceeded to secure the funds. A few days after saying yes to God, a parishioner came forward with a donation for $20,000. The priest was off and running! He hired an evangelist and the two of them gave presentations and conferences to the local area, teaching and sharing the faith. The parish community began to grow.

The priest then made another bold decision: he discontinued the practice of bingo, their largest source of funds. That occurred many years ago and today the parish is thriving. Over the years, the congregation grew in faith and numbers and today, St. Marie’s is as beautiful and healthy inside as it is on the outside.

This pastor has since been transferred after 27 years of faithful service The current pastor,  Fr. Moe, gave a beautiful homily based on the Gospel story of John the Baptist, recognizing Jesus as the Christ, and crying out that He was the Lamb of  God. In the homily Father spoke of references to the Lamb of God in the old and new testaments, concluding with the Book of Revelation where the 4 creatures are worshipping God on the throne by crying out, “Holy, holy, holy!” Fr. Moe spoke of the eternal liturgy taking place in heaven and how every earthly liturgy is connected with that heavenly one. In essence, we we were worshipping God with the saints, the angels and the heavenly hosts. As I heard Father Moe’s words and gazed upon the magnificent altar of St. Marie’s, it was easy to be transported straight to heaven, and imagine the heavenly Father, Son and Holy Spirit on the throne. When you look at this slide show I’ve prepared, I think you’ll see why.

A healing miracle has occurred for me since visiting this beautiful church and soon I will post about it. Stay tuned . . .

In the meantime, enjoy the slides of this lovely cathedral.

[cincopa AoKAKaqlifBt]

Jesus: fully God AND fully human – reflections on the readings for January 12, 2011

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Today’s readings
Hebrews 2:14-18; Psalm 105:1-4,6-9; Mark 1:29-39

Jesus, incarnate, is Jesus fully human

The title of this post might seem obvious, but for some reason all during Christmas the whole idea of the incarnation of Jesus really hit home. He became more real to me as a man. It reminds me of something that happened over the Christmas vacation.

I blog regularly about my favorite author, Louisa May Alcott, and I happen to live near Concord, MA where her family homestead is located (and it is a year-round museum). The public library in Concord has many of her handwritten letters and I went to look at them. One letter in particular about the death of her sister really moved me so I hand copied it. In the process of doing that, I thought about the letters I had seen from my mother’s relatives who had lived during the time of Louisa May Alcott (which was throughout the 19th century) and Louisa suddenly became like one of those relatives rather than the far away (and dead) author whom I so esteemed. She became more real to me and I felt closer to her.

This is how meditating upon the incarnation of Christ has made me feel closer to Jesus. He is no less God to me, but his humanity is more real.

Hebrews 2:14-18 illustrates the meaning of a human Jesus

As a result, today’s readings really spoke to me. Do you ever have times when you’re reading the scriptures and it’s like God is chattering at you with all these insights? That’s what today was like.

The first reading from Hebrews spoke of how we as humans “share in blood and Flesh, Jesus likewise shared in them . . .” Jesus shares our flesh and blood. He felt the cold and heat, like we do. He felt the rain against his skin, like we do. He probably got sun burn living in the desert – many of us have experienced that. The body of Jesus embodies God, who cannot be contained, but He never shied away from experiencing even the most mundane things.

Hebrews goes on to say that in order to defeat the Devil, He had to defeat the power of death by dying Himself. He had to experience everything we experience to unite us to Himself and to triumph over the thing we can’t – death.

This reading ends by saying the following: “Because He Himself was tested through what He suffered, He is able to help those who are being tested.” Jesus suffered real wounds, real tears, real mental anguish, and He triumphed ultimately over it all. To me this says that as long as I cling to Jesus, there is always hope, even when life tempts me to despair. The incarnation of Jesus is one of the most profound mysteries that we can focus on.

How does the humanity of Jesus relate to the Eucharist?

The beauty of meditating upon the humanity of Jesus is that it is helping me to appreciate the Eucharist all the more. The Eucharist is a piece of bread that I can eat, that I can totally consume. And Jesus is that bread; He allows me to totally consume Him – He WANTS me to consume Him. When I think of that piece of bread being digested and flowing through my own blood . . . it’s an amazing experience of intimacy.

Jesus’ healing touch

Moving on to the Gospel reading, we read of Jesus healing Simon’s mother-in-law of her fever. What struck me here is that same theme of humanity and intimacy – Jesus only needed to say the word and she would be healed. But instead, He grasped her by the hand and helped her up, and the fever left her. He knew the power of human touch. He so totally understands our need for touch to impart intimacy. I believe this is one reason why we are asked to physically consume the Eucharist for it makes the experience of receiving Jesus more real, if we able to see Him in the bread.

Final thoughts

This weekend, while on retreat with confirmation students from our parish, I saw our pastor in a new and wonderful light. I realized through listening to him talk that every moment of his life is prayer. The Gospel tells us that Jesus got up before dawn to go to a deserted place to pray. I thought immediately of our pastor, who gets up every morning at 4am and walks 4 miles through the town. When I asked him how he was able to do that, he smiled and said it’s because he has such a rich inner life. And I knew that was true. Just like Jesus, Fr. Mike rises before dawn, walks through the deserted streets and prays to his Heavenly Father, just like Jesus did.

The spiritual life is so rich, and it becomes even richer when I connect the spiritual world with the physical one, the one that God so lovingly made.

Degrees of Love – reflections on readings for Jan. 4, 2011

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Readings for today
1 John 4:7-10; Psalm 72:1-4,7-8; Mark 6:34-44

Today’s readings speak a great deal about love. A favorite podcast of mine, Pray As You Go, asked a question about the reading from 1 John – what were the different ways that the root word, love, was used? The first thing I thought of was that love was used as a noun (“God is love“) and it is also used as a verb (“Beloved, let us love one another”).  This makes the word very dynamic indeed! Jesus Christ came to earth that we might have life; John says that “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that He has loved us and sent His Son as expiation for our sins.” The love we can offer to God is a mere shadow of the love He can offer us because He IS love.

We move on to the gospel reading, a familiar story to many about the multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes. In this reading, I saw many degrees of love:

  • Jesus saw the crowd and was moved with pity for they were like sheep without a shepherd. In his love, He “began to teach them many things.”
  • As the day wore on, the apostles became concerned about the people finding food to eat in such a lonely place. They demonstrated love for the people by their concern over the people’s need for food.
  • Jesus, however, challenged their concern by ratcheting up to a whole new level: “He said to them in reply, ‘Give them some food yourselves.’ ” The apostles, in their limited vision, could only see that it was impossible to feed 5000 men (with women and children) as they couldn’t buy the food for them. They had the Messiah with them but could only see the limited possibilities. Their minds and their hearts were limited.
  • Jesus then instructed the apostles to take an inventory of available food (5 loaves and 2 fishes) – they presented the food to Him and that’s when the miracle began. Or perhaps, there were several miracles?

There has been controversy over the years regarding this gospel reading as to its interpretation. Some have interpreted the miracle as an actual, physical multiplication of the loaves and fishes. Others instead interpret the miracle to mean that the people opened their hearts and shared what they had with each other.

While I’m no theologian or scholar, I propose that both miracles most likely happened. Jesus is God so physically multiplying the loaves and fishes would be a simple, straightforward task. I think, however, the real miracle was the multiplying of love amongst the people, and in the apostles.

I’ve often read about how people during that time never traveled without provisions. It may be that there were far more than 5 loaves and 2 fishes, but only a few people were willing to offer what they had. But as Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes, perhaps people considered what He had taught them during the day, and their hearts were opened to share. Certainly the growth of love softening a hardened heart is one of the greatest miracles of all.

The apostles showed a limited amount of love for the people, a love that lacked resourcefulness. It was like a passive form of love. Jesus demonstrated real love in action. While there is nothing in the passage that speaks to the effect the miracle of the Loaves and Fishes had on them, you have to imagine it had to be life changing.

It is easy now for me to see the first reading from 1 John in action here in this gospel: God is Love and only He can practice perfect love. We can experienced that flood of love just as the 5000 did. And if we sit as His feet, we will have the most extraordinary opportunity, like the apostles, to learn to love as Jesus does.

Addendum: The gospel reading for January 5th states the following regarding the apostles after seeing Jesus walk on the water (and reacting to Him as if He were a ghost):

He [Jesus] got into the boat with them and the wind died down.
They were completely astounded.
They had not understood the incident of the loaves.
On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.

The apostles, apparently, still had a lot to learn. Just like you and me. We always have a lot to learn!