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At Easter Vigil tomorrow night, in churches all around the world, a great event is taking place as the Church welcome new members through Baptism!  We ask that you continue to pray for these new Catholics, that their faith may be strengthened in Eucharist and in the support of all parish families.

 

I am reminded of the line from Les Miserables, “To love another person is to see the face of God!”  May we seek the face of God in all those we meet each day, in ourselves and in the beauty of creation!  The glory of God will be made visible by the way we live our lives…. We write a new page of the gospel each day by the things we do and the words we say. People read what we write….what is the gospel according to me today?  What “good news” do I live and teach?

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech S.N.D.

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As we begin Holy Week, let us pull together all our Lenten resources!  Our prayer, fasting and almsgiving come to a culmination in this holiest of weeks.  Even if we have forgotten our resolutions, even if we have not been as serious as we could have been in our practice of Lenten sacrifices, it is not too late! Let us make a concerted effort to join wholeheartedly in this week’s opportunities to pray, fast and give to others. Why do we do this?  Not just because it is the “thing to do” this week, but in response to the love of Jesus that we call to mind in a special way.

 

“A visitor once went to see a class of second graders after they had just finished their religion class. One little girl, excited about what she had just learned, immediately asked the visitor, “Do you know the greatest sign of love?”  The question surprised the visitor.  The little girl was obviously looking for a specific answer.  “Well, when I really love someone, I want to embrace them with both arms.”  Right away every head in the classroom began to shake from side to side. “No!”  Then the children all stretched out their arms and one girl pointed to the wall, to the cross.”

 

The gesture of open arms is a symbol of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice.  Open arms also remind us that we are always welcome into the Lord’s loving embrace…and during this week, as we remember Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, we know we are LOVED!

 

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech S.N.D.

 

 

 

 

There was once a woman who had a dream. In her dream she was disappointed, disillusioned and depressed. She wanted a good world, a peaceful world, and she wanted to be a good person. But the newspaper and television showed her how far we were from such a reality. So she decided to go shopping. She went to the mall and wandered into a new store – where the person behind the counter looked strangely like Jesus. Gathering up her courage she went up to the counter and asked, “Are you Jesus?” “Well, yes, I am,” the man answered. “Do you work here?” “Actually,” Jesus responded, “I own the store. You are free to wander up and down the aisles, see what it is I sell, and then make a list of what you want. When you are finished, come back here, and we’ll see what we can do for you.”

So, the woman did just that. And what she saw thrilled her. There was peace on earth, no more war, no hunger or poverty, peace in families, no more drugs, harmony, clean air. She wrote furiously and finally approached the counter, handing a long list to Jesus. He skimmed the paper, and then smiling at her said, “No problem.” Reaching under the counter, he grabbed some packets and laid them out on the counter. Confused, she asked, “What are these?” Jesus replied: “These are seed packets. You see, this is a catalogue store.” Surprised the woman blurted out, “You mean I don’t get the finished product?” “No,” Jesus gently responded. “This is a place of dreams. You come and see what it looks like, and I give you the seeds. Then you plant the seeds. You go home and nurture them and help them to grow and someone else reaps the benefits.” And then she woke up. (Rev. Andrew Barakos)

Lent is a time for planting seeds…seeds of kindness, of forgiveness, of patience, of compassion, and on, and on, and on.  There is no limit to the goodness we have the power to plant during this holy season! Each day allows us the opportunities to dream, to plant, to nurture all the goodness we want to see in our world. Like the old song says, “Let there be peace [or joy, or gratitude, or love…] on earth…and let it begin with me!”

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech S.N.D.

 

 

 

 

Three apprentice devils were preparing to come to the earth to finish their apprenticeship.  Satan, the Prince of Darkness, appeared before them and questioned them about their plans to tempt and ruin people.  The first said, “I will tell them that there is no God.” Satan answered, “You will deceive only a few that way because deep down people sense that there must be a God.” The second apprentice spoke, “I will tell the people that there is no hell.”  “You will fool only a few that way,” replied Satan, “because deep down people know that one day they will have to answer for their misdeeds.”  Finally, the third apprentice declared, “I will tell people that there is no hurry.”  With that, Satan laughed with delight. “Yes, with that you will ruin them by the millions.”

 

As we celebrate Lent this year, let us remember that procrastination in doing what is right can be an obstacle to true spiritual growth!  This is the time to really make a “new year’s” resolution…as we look into ourselves prayerfully and discover the truth within our hearts.  What keeps me away from my God?  Over what stones do I stumble on my way to holiness?  Could it be the stone of “I am too busy to pray”? or the stone of “I don’t like him/her because…”?  Could I be tripping over the stone of indifference to another’s pain or loneliness or need?  Am I burdened by the stone of unforgiveness, or personal comfort or selfishness? Whatever the stone may be, Lent gives us the chance to consciously work at being better people.  As individuals, each of us may want to pick up a stone to represent what we want to change in our life this Lent.  Put that stone in a special place, a place where you will see it often.  Each time you see the stone, say a prayer asking God for the grace to be strong in your efforts to overcome whatever it is that might be keeping you from being the best you can be.  Lent is NOT just a time for giving up….it is a time for GIVING, giving in, giving to, giving for, for-giving.  It is a time to be drawn into the holiness of God, a time to overcome the obstacles in our journey toward personal holiness.  AND each of us is called to be holy!  Satan may try to tell is there is no hurry—but we know that “sooner” is always better than “too late”!

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech S.N.D.

“Aaron was a fisherman who lived on the banks of a river.  Walking home with his eyes half closed one evening after a hard day’s toil, he was dreaming of what he would do when he became rich.  Suddenly his foot struck against a leather pouch filled with what appeared to be small stones.  Absentmindedly, he picked up the pouch and began throwing the pebbles into the water.  ‘When I am rich, I will have a large house.” And he threw a stone.  Then he threw another stone, thinking ‘When I am rich, I will have servants and rich food.’  This went on until only one stone was left.  As Aaron held it in his hand, a ray of light caught it and made it sparkle. He realized then that it was a valuable gem and that he had been throwing away the real riches in his hand while he dreamed idly of unreal riches in the future.”

 

When do we walk with our eyes half-closed?  Do we spend our waking moments wanting what we don’t have instead of appreciating the many gifts we do have?  As the days of Lent slip by, we still have time to go deep into our hearts and souls to unearth the gratitude we may have lost sight of.  We have time to remember those special people in our lives, people who have touched us by their kindness, who have challenged us to be the best we can be, who have loved us enough to forgive us and help us to grow. Let’s spend some time this week singing our gratitude songs!  Perhaps if you have a sacred space, you can place the names of those for whom you are grateful in that space….or you might write down your “riches” and place your list in a prominent place (on your refrigerator?).

 

In these continuing days of Lent, let us renew ourselves in our determination to grow in our relationship with our God who “so loved the world that he gave his only Son.”

 Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech S.N.D.

The season of Lent calls us to personal transformation—and sometimes transformation hurts!

C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, uses a surprising analogy when speaking of transformation:

IMAGINE YOURSELFas a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what he is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised.

But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is he up to? The explanation is that he is building quite a different house from the one you thought of — throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards.

You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but he is building up a palace. He intends to come and live in it himself.

During the season of Lent we are supposed to long for transformation!   We know that change is often painful…yet we know it is for our own good.  During these days let us aim to accept the changes and the challenges asked of us…with a joyful heart and a willing spirit!

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech S.N.D.

 

There was a university professor who went searching for the meaning of life.  After several years and many miles, he came to the hut of a particularly holy hermit and asked to be enlightened.  The holy man invited his visitor into his humble dwelling and began to serve him tea.  He filled the pilgrim’s cup and then kept on pouring so that the tea was soon dripping onto the floor.  The professor watched the overflow until he could no longer restrain himself.  “Stop! It is full.  No more will go in!”  “Like this cup,” said the hermit, “you are full of your own opinions, preconceptions, and ideas.  How can I teach you unless you first empty your cup?”

 

This week we look forward to the beginning of Lent.  The phrase “look forward to” may not exactly express what most of us feel about Lent…but it should!  Lent gives us an opportunity to act on the hermit’s evaluation of the professor….Like the professor, we too are filled to the brim with “opinions, preconceptions, and ideas.”  We need to empty ourselves of all that stands in the way of hearing what our God has to teach us during this time of Lent.  Instead of trying to figure out what to “give up” during Lent, how about considering where we can “give in” by working at eliminating our personal biases, admitting that we don’t have all the answers, acknowledging that only God is perfect.  Emptying ourselves, humbling ourselves before God, praying for guidance, refraining from judging others—all of these actions can lead us to greater inner peace.  If who Iam and what I think seem to be more important than who God is, my priorities are skewed.  When God looks at me, who does He see?  During Lent, each of us is being called to greater holiness.  I can take the first step by acknowledging how, in word and action, I can be “full of myself.”  Then I can lay myself at the foot of the cross and beg to be emptied of everything that makes me less than who God calls me to be.  Finally, I can ask for the grace of receptivity…as I read His Word in Scripture, sit in quiet prayer, and respond to those He sends to me.

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech S.N.D.