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Archive for the ‘Lenten Reflections’ Category

 

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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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.

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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.

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This post is part of our Lenten Reflection Series: Be A Fountain of Mercy
Authored by Sister Mary Rebekah Kennedy, SND

LISTEN: Jerusalem My Destiny  – Rory Cooney

I have fixed my eyes on your hills,
Jerusalem, my Destiny!

In our Lenten journey we have arrived in Jerusalem with Jesus. I do not know if Jesus knew for sure what was going to happen to him once he arrived in the Holy City. But I do know that throughout the Gospels, Jesus was faithful to the journey itself which would lead to Jerusalem. Jesus’ journey was one of doing the will of his merciful Father.

Whether Jesus spent time in prayer with his Father, used his healing touch to make others whole again, or spoke words of comfort or admonition to his followers, he was doing God’s will. Jesus is the model for us all of a Son who lived in total awareness of his Father.

I have fixed my eyes on your hills,
Jerusalem, my Destiny!
Though I cannot see the end for me,
I cannot turn away.

We, too, are called to live in that total awareness of being a daughter or a son of God. As we continue our journey through the Jubilee Year of Mercy, may we, too, be inspired to spend time in prayer with our Father. May our contacts with others reflect the comforting words and touches of Jesus. May we awaken each day petitioning God to lead us in doing His will.

I have fixed my eyes on your hills,
Jerusalem, my Destiny!
Though I cannot see the end for me,
I cannot turn away.
We have set our hearts for the way;
this journey is our destiny.

And, finally, may we be reassured that we do not travel alone to Jerusalem. We are a part of the Body of Christ.

I have fixed my eyes on your hills,
Jerusalem, my Destiny!
Though I cannot see the end for me,
I cannot turn away.
We have set our hearts for the way;
this journey is our destiny.
Let no one walk alone.
The journey makes us one.

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This post is part of our Lenten Reflection Series: Be A Fountain of Mercy
Authored by Sister Mary Regina Robbins, SND

“Quick, bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again.” Lk. 15

Even though the Gospel for this Sunday is familiar to all of us, we never tire of it. It shows in bas relief how in Christ old things can pass away and new things can come. It is possible to let go of the old if it bogs us down, and believe in new life. So we hear again the parable of the Prodigal Son returning to his father who receives him with open arms and abundant blessings of love and gratitude. With a little imagination we can picture Jesus, the storyteller, holding his listeners spellbound as they wonder how the story will end. Surprise, shock! Jesus has come up with a terrifically radical, unforgettable story to get across the mercy of God, the loving Creator-God. He reveals his Abba as one who waits for us, refusing to take away our free will and who even lets us wander and fall until we find how miserable we can be apart from him.

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Especially parents can identify with this story as they feel an aching longing for their departed children. Many parents are tortured by what may have gone wrong or what could have been different in their relationships with their children. They hope and pray for their children to realize that they have a home and are painfully missed.

But the story is not just about others returning. It is also about us. In many ways we wander, straying from goodness and close dependence upon God. During Lent we are invited to spend time looking at where we are and where we have wandered. We allow ourselves in quiet prayer to recognize our plight. By facing our inner truth we come to an awakening, “I must return.”  The Church, especially during the Holy Year of Mercy, opens its doors, providing the sacrament of reconciliation and doctrinal promises of forgiveness and acceptance.

As Saint Paul says in the second reading, God our Father is reconciling us through Christ. As we prepare for the Easter renewal of our baptismal vows we believe: “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold new things have come.”

What are these old things for you and what might the new things be? For the Prodigal Son it was very clear. Is it clear for you?

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This post is part of our Lenten Reflection Series: Be A Fountain of Mercy
Authored by Sister Mary Antonine Manning, SND

The burning bush that was not consumed and the barren fig tree that was spared destruction can lead us to a consideration of the duty of care for our common home—the Earth.

In his encyclical On Care for Our Common Home (Laudato Si’) Pope Francis proposes certain practices that may seem trivial but as he says, “directly and significantly affect the world around us.” Among these are choosing to use less heating and wearing warmer clothes instead, avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating trash and recyclables, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living things, using public transport or carpooling, planting trees, and turning off unnecessary lights (L.S. 211).

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“Reusing something instead of immediately discarding it, when done for the right reasons, can be an act of love which expresses our own dignity,” (L.S. 211). The Pope decries what he terms a throwaway culture. “[W]e know that approximately a third of all food produced is discarded and ‘whenever food is thrown out it is as if it were stolen from the table of the poor,’” (L.S. 50).

Lent provides us with the impetus to examine our lifestyle and to evaluate our stewardship of the Earth.

Questions for reflection:

Am I striving to be aware of how my actions affect others—my brothers and sisters throughout the world?

What type of ecological situations are we forcing future generations to face by ignoring ecological problems now?

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This post is part of our Lenten Reflection Series: Be A Fountain of Mercy
Authored by Sister Mary Regina Robbins, SND

The Entrance Antiphon for this Sunday is a beautiful plea:

“Of you my heart has spoken:
Seek his face.
It is your face, O Lord, that I seek.
Hide not your face from me!” (Ps. 25)

As we continue our Lenten journey we experience an increasing desire to be pure of heart, to have eyes of faith, to be all that God is calling us to be. We want to see the face of Christ so we can reflect his goodness to our world. However Satan wages a relentless war against our efforts. We hear God’s call in our hearts but the evil spirit uses twists and turns to suggest excuses, and butters up our already-puffed-up egos. The journey is rough at times. Like Saint Paul we say we do not always do the things we resolve to do. We experience our human weaknesses and realize more and more how much we need Lent to discipline ourselves. We turn to God for the grace and strength to be Christ-like. “Hide not your face from me, Lord!”

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This Sunday we have the wonderful Gospel of the Transfiguration. Let your imagination enter the scene. Climb the hillside with Jesus. His transfiguration is to empower us as it did the apostles, for our own transformation into his likeness.

The apostles had some kind of mystical experience on Mount Tabor. It changed their lives and they held in their hearts forever that memory. They had a personal God-experience, an intimate encounter with Jesus Christ, true God and true man.

This Gospel event is so important that the liturgical calendar celebrates it as a feast day on August 6. It is recorded in all three synoptics (Mtt.17.1-8, Mk. 9.2-8 and Lk. 9.28-36). Jesus manifests his glory and divinity, impressing upon the apostles who he really is, giving them a truth which they will later be able to refer to in times of temptation and difficulty.

Have you had a “transfiguration” personal encounter with Jesus? Yours may not be recorded in any book and it may not be as dramatic, but if you look into your heart you may be able to recall some moment or event that changed you in some way. We know the story of Jesus’ transfiguration because the apostles experienced it, recalled it, reflected upon it, and then shared it, giving testimony. Do we willingly share our God-experiences as testimony of what God can do? This is a grace to ask for during Lent as we deepen our prayer and meditation and pray that God will show us his face.

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