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Posts Tagged ‘40 Days’

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

As we begin the Lenten season we journey with Jesus into the desert. In the film The Bible there is a heart-wrenching scene where Jesus is struggling for survival after 40 days in the desert. The devil approaches Him and offers a stone to change to bread. He takes Jesus to a high point and encourages Him to jump and trust that God will provide. Finally the devil takes Jesus to the temple and offers Him a royal kingdom. Each time Jesus rebukes the devil, staying strong against these temptations.

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Lent is an appropriate time for all of us to face our temptations and examine our God connections. What are our priorities and where does God fit in? We are offered three ways to improve our relation with God and our Christian family.

  1. PRAY – We are encouraged to pray more during this Lenten season. Where are you in your prayer journey? If your answer is that you don’t have time to pray, then Lent is the perfect opportunity for renewal. For Lent create a prayer space, maybe with a cactus plant as a reminder of Lent. Practice silence and create times of quiet, at home or in the car. Meditate, breathe slowly and pray the Psalm for the day. Read a spiritual book. Take a walk and see the beauty around you.
  2. FAST – Jesus fasted in the desert. Lent motivates us to fast, wasting less, giving up grudges, fasting from TV.
  3. ALMGIVING – Finally we are encouraged to look around us and see those in need. Almsgiving motivates us to spend a little less on ourselves and offer money to a charity. What could you do to help? Simplify your life. Do some spring cleaning and offer the extras to a local second-hand store.

Pope Francis has offered the idea of practicing a Work of Mercy on Fridays. The Pope is a tremendous example to us we see him reaching out to those in need. Our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving help us to be better disciples in our world today. Kerry Weber, managing editor of America Magazine, wrote the book Mercy in the City in which she describes her Lenten journey of picking a work of mercy each week and executing it in some way.

Reflection Questions:

  • What is a temptation in my life that I want to address this Lent?
  • How does my involvement in economic, political, or church systems contribute to the building of the Reign of God?

Prayer: Grant almighty God, through the observance of holy Lent, that we may grow in understanding of the riches hidden in Christ and by worthy conduct pursue their effects. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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By Sister Mary Grace Leung, SND

The seasons of the Church’s liturgical year have always been special to me because I entered the Catholic Church through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. I was baptized at the Easter Vigil in 2006 and every year I look forward to my anniversary!

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When I learned about Advent in my classes, I made sure it was special by lighting up the Advent candles at home before I had supper. I said all the prayers and pondered on my anticipation of Jesus’ birth. Then Lent came, and I was truly touched by the practice of praying, fasting and giving alms. I was eager to fill my rice bowl for Catholic Charities and I bought food for the homeless whom I greeted along my walks on the streets of the city. Lent helped me realize that I needed to be with and for people who are in need – something that was lacking in my past.

My eagerness and excitement in taking the final steps to my baptism was filled with so many graces. The three scrutinies of the catechumens, the three readings from the Gospel of John about the healing of the man born blind, the raising of Lazarus and the Samaritan woman all pointed me toward conversion experiences that enriched my prayer life and openness to what God was calling me to as a new disciple and member of the Church. What moved me was hearing the voice of Jesus telling me “do you know that I love you?” I said, “Yes, I do!” and every Easter I am reminded of God’s love for me, and that he is always with me in times of darkness as well as in times of joy. God’s love endures and strengthens all of us for the journey, and this is the great blessing of each Easter season.

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By Sister Mary Rebekah Kennedy, SND

The time of Lent is a concentrated period in which we gaze contemplatively at the face of Jesus. Each of us might search for something different in his eyes – acceptance, understanding, love, forgiveness, or guidance.

We often approach Jesus aware of and burdened down with our failings, our shortcomings, our biases. My wish for all of us at this season, however, is that in our contemplation of the face of Jesus we might see not our faults and foibles reflected in his eyes but that we might see ourselves as only he sees us. In the Spiritual Canticle, John of the Cross writes:

When You regarded me
Your eyes imprinted your grace in me,
In this, You loved me again,
And thus my eyes merited
to also love what You see in me…
Let us go forth together to see
ourselves in Your beauty.

These words give me hope. They remind me that God has made me in His Divine Image. The faults and flaws that I see in myself are invisible to his eyes. When I am present to Jesus as my constant companion I am able to see myself reflected in his eyes and to love myself as He loves me. I then can become a true reflection of the Divine Image.

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They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” John 12:21. Is this not what I ask of God every day? What a grace in my life it would be if, on a daily basis, Jesus and I went forth together, my eyes seeing in myself and in others the goodness He sees and loves. When Jesus looks at me, he does not see a fragmented person. He sees me whole and holy, as he made me, his beauty reflected in me. Gazing on the face of Jesus, loving in myself what he unconditionally loves in me can lead me to also see others as a reflection of his beauty.

And so, during this Lenten season, what will each of us seek? Will I seek my own way? My own preferences? A front-row seat to my own opinions? Or will I seek the face of Jesus, asking Him to hold me as well as every person in His loving gaze, going forth together (Jesus, my family and friends, myself) to see ourselves in His beauty.

 

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By Sister Mary Teresita Keliher, SND

We have now journeyed half way through Lent. Today is known as Laetare Sunday- meaning rejoice. We can rejoice that we have successfully made it this far and maybe that the end is coming near. But then again it is also a time to see what we have done for Lent and how we have kept our resolutions with only three weeks to renew them. For Christians it is also a time to reflect on the mystery we will witness at the end of Lent. The days that are high holidays of the Church. We will not celebrate Easter until we have suffered with Jesus through Good Friday. Two weeks ago some 1,800 people attended the Rite of Election at the Los Angeles Cathedral. The Elect are looking to Easter as the time of their Baptism, their entrance into the Church. As we may see Lent coming to an end, the Elect are preparing for a beginning of a new life in the Church.

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The readings today are an insight into God’s great love and generosity. In Chronicles we see the people of Israel after their time of punishment and exile returning to their role as the faithful people of God. They were exiled in a foreign land and longed to return to their home in Jerusalem. God, through the mercy of the Persian king, who was a Gentile, sends them back to their own land with the promise of building a temple. They are certainly filled with a sense of rejoicing!

Paul reminds us of God’s constant love and care for us through his continued gift of grace. Christ is God’s greatest gift to us. All is gift and we are God’s handiwork, to bring the message of God’s love to those we serve.

In the Gospel Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born again through a life in Jesus. We contemplate the cross and remember how much God loved us and the world around us. God gave his Son so that we may have eternal life. The cross, an instrument of torture, becomes the sign to all humans that we are saved if we believe. This also requires our commitment, our turning from evil ways to follow the light of Christ. We rejoice at the generosity of God’s love

What keeps us from being the best versions of ourselves? God’s love is all around us, but we need to get in touch with the experience within us that thirsts for God. Our conversion will never be complete if we continue to hold on to our selfish ways. God gave and Jesus gave. What do we need to give to return that love? As we near the final days of Lent, may we rejoice and deepen our commitment to reach out in love to those around us. This is the glory of the cross, the gift that keeps on giving.

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Cleansing of the Temple: Jn. 2.13-25

By Sister Mary Regina Robbins, SND

The story of Jesus cleansing the temple area is shocking. He is definitely center stage in this scene. We see a side of his character that we were not expecting! Jesus in full stature, with energy and anger, makes a whip and drives people, oxen and sheep out of the area in front of the temple. We can picture the tables upturned and money splatting all over. He tells those who were selling doves “Get them out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” What’s not to run from? This man is in a rage! And along with this gesture Jesus proclaims without compromise, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” So Jesus, what was going on with you that day?

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I get it. Jesus manifests divinity and humanity. However, I find myself thinking: In Rome, Lourdes and Assisi haven’t we seen folks selling souvenirs and bargaining with people? And they do this right in front of the most holy and beautiful basilicas! In fact the economy of cities are enhanced by tourism purchases. So Jesus, what are we supposed to do with this “sign”?

Certainly our first reflection echoes the minds of the disciples describing prophets in the Old Testament: “Zeal for your house consumes me.” Jesus demonstrates a passionate love for his Father and true worship. Jesus knows motivation and sees through what is going on. As the last line in this account reads, “He was well aware of what was in man’s heart.”

And this leads us deeper into a second reflection: Jesus is well aware of what is in my heart. Am I well aware of what is in my heart? As we journey through Lent; as we enter more deeply into the basilica of true Paschal Mystery worship of God through, with and in Jesus, what clutter stands around the entrance? What moneychanger tables block my humble contrition and my sincere desire to know, love and serve God?

Now picture Jesus with that same energy helping you to dash out the junk, sins and the bad habits that the Holy Spirit keeps nudging you to get rid of. Hear Jesus say directly to you: “Get them out of here! Stop turning your beautiful Temple of the Holy Spirit, into a marketplace of detractions.”

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The Second Sunday of Lent – Transfiguration of Jesus

By Sister Mary Lisa Megaffin, SND

The account of the Transfiguration, a rather mysterious segment in the life of Christ, provides many reflection points about the presence of God.

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It almost seems as if Peter, James and John experienced a bit of an emotional roller coaster. First, they had heard (but probably not grasped) Jesus’ previous challenging messages as recounted in the gospel of Mark:

  • That the Son of Man should suffer many things—a message which Peter tried to discount,
  • The necessity of losing one’s life for the sake of the Gospel,
  • That genuine disciples of Jesus must be ready to deny themselves and take up their personal crosses.

What a juxtaposition: from hard and potentially painful sayings, to the radiance of Christ’s clothing and countenance, to the ecstasy of the apostles–“it is good that we are here.”  It is no wonder that Peter was at a loss for words–“he hardly knew what to speak because they were so terrified.”

What we can learn is that even in times of emotional turmoil, or perhaps especially in times of emotional turmoil, God is present and he will reveal himself to those whose hearts are ready to listen. During Lent, we have many opportunities to unplug, still our hearts, be led up a high mountain apart by ourselves, and embrace and surrender to the deep graces which this solitude fosters. Deep within, I hear “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” In this solitude, I can experience the radiance of God’s presence as I grow even closer in my personal relationship with Jesus, asking him:

  • How is he, as the Son of Man, suffering today in my brothers and sisters around the world?
  • What does losing my life for the sake of the Gospel mean, in light of this suffering?
  • For the grace to be aware of the radiance of God’s presence even in difficult moments, as I deny myself and take up my cross, becoming a source of that radiance and grace for others.

“The grace of the Transfiguration is not just a vision of glory…its primary purpose is something greater: to empower us to live in the presence of God and to see the radiance of that presence in all events, people, the cosmos, and in ourselves.” …Thomas Keating.

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The First Sunday of Lent – One Does Not Live on Bread Alone

By Sister Julie Marie Bruss, SND

Today we hear the message, “repent and believe in the gospel.” It is remarkable how much the gospel can speak to us when we are open to the messages contained there. When we are open and listen, really listen, we can take in what is in the words and what lies beyond the words. When we sit with and savor the words of the gospel we connect with all that Jesus has modeled in disposition and attitude, in tenderness or challenge, always wrapped in mercy and compassion and an invitation to forgiveness. There is power in His interactions with individuals. We can learn so much from regular reflection on the words of scripture.

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We live “on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” We are fed by the word in the scriptures, and also by the words that come from God in many ways. God’s word comes to us in every moment, if we are mindful and attentive to the reality. God speaks in the situations in which we find ourselves, through the persons who are with us and in all of the creation that surrounds us.

God wants to interact with us as individuals, so we ask ourselves: What might God be speaking to me in my current life situation with its realities of joys and struggles? What is God saying to me through the people that I encounter each day? Is there someone about whom I can change my attitude, something that I can consider from a different point of view, someone or something that has the power to transform my life if I will just choose and allow it to happen? How might I grow if I take in the word that is in the sights and sounds of nature that are present and just waiting for me to enjoy?

This Lent we are offered another opportunity for personal transformation in our life’s journey. In the coming weeks, let us listen for the word of God coming to us in new and different ways.

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