2022 Lenten Reflections

Deepening the Meanings of Lent

As we journey through the sacred season of Lent, VP of Mission Emerita Sr. Helen Jean Novy, HM will offer reflections each week about how the scriptures of the day and themes of the season intersect with our everyday lives.

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Holy Thursday - Easter Sunday

List of 4 items.

  • Holy Thursday

    Remember this:
    Jesus, God Incarnate, washes feet;
    Bread and Wine become the Body and Blood of a Jesus,
    who has brought healing and abundant life;
    Simple people celebrating the Passover of God
    are commissioned to recall and re-enact sacred events.
    Remember this:
    God’s unimaginable love for us;
    Jesus’ unlimited self-giving.
    Remember this:
    in the meal of all believers with nourishment leading us
    to salvation and service.
    Reflect on Jesus’ message to you as Friend before leaving this life:
    Chapters 14, 15, 16, 17 of John’s Gospel.
    Take to heart Jesus’ directive: Love one another as I have loved you!
    Is there anything you are called to memorialize?
    Is there anyone whose feet you would not wash?
  • Good Friday

    This is a day to lament all suffering, all victims of oppression, all those whose lives are endangered through the horrors of war, through capital punishment, through violence in any form, including poverty and injustice.
    Who is Jesus who died on the Cross?
    Word Enfleshed
    Teacher of the New Law
    Speaker of words of life and liberation
    Bringer of healing and mercy
    The Compassionate One
    Giver of abundant life
    The Innocent One
    Suffering Messiah
    Friend giving his life for his Friends
    Savior of all humankind
    Crucified and Risen one
    Creator of New Heavens and a New Earth
    Savior of all living things
    Our Incarnate God saving us through his birth and every moment of his life
    Why did he die on the cross?
    Betrayed by one of his own, Jesus was targeted by the religious and secular authorities who colluded to eliminate him because he threatened their “authority” and the systems that gave them power over the people. Let us keep in mind all you know and in prayer all in the world carrying a cross, including those crucified through the cruelty and barbarism of others.
    Jesus had emptied himself becoming fully human in the form of a slave and, like so many of them, faced the shame and horror of the Cross. Ultimately, Jesus died because he chose utter fidelity to his Message and Mission, to his call. He preached a “a word of life and liberation” and did not renege.
    Even though Jesus brought healing and abundant life, he was hated, even despised. (Why?)
    Jesus lived for us and through his Passion, with a selfless act of love, Jesus poured himself out to give us abundant life and full freedom of spirit.
    Stay with Jesus in silence somewhere, somehow, a few minutes or as long as you possibly can. Just be present.
    Later, begin to look for signs of a new heaven and a new earth.
  • Holy Saturday

    The readings of this Easter Vigil cover a panorama of the actions of God from Creation to the Exodus to the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus. They are accompanied by dramatic actions including the striking of flint for the lighting of the fire which lights the Paschal Candle, Light of Christ. With the inscribing of Alpha (the first letter of the Greek alphabet) and Omega (the last letter of the Greek alphabet), on the candle, Christ is seen as the Word present at creation as well as the goal of creation. (Do try to attend the Easter Vigil liturgy, one of a kind, redolent with symbols and meanings. We might say Easter Sunday celebrates the reality that we are there; Holy Saturday celebrates how we got there.)
    The readings and ritual actions of this extraordinary liturgy lift us, having been buried in the tomb with Jesus, to cosmic dimensions. Bells are rung with the singing of the Gloria. Our spirits are lifted with awe and wonder. All people and the whole earth are renewed. Through the radical action of Jesus’ self-giving, everyone and all living things have the potential to be transformed. Let us live this good news. Do not hesitate to sing Alleluias. Exult in Earth signs and colors of new life, too. Give praise, live joy, offer gratitude, be a prophetic witness. A new spirit has been placed within us. Easter brought us the Holy Spirit. Let us continue to make discoveries throughout this Easter time of its limitless meanings.
    Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.
    The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
    See it everywhere. Help bring it about wherever you are.
  • Easter Sunday

    This is the day the Lord has made:
    Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
    We have arrived. Nothing is the same: Jesus has risen! Following Jesus through Lent and then through his passion and death, we have reached the celebration of his resurrection. Having accompanied Jesus even in his death,
    we have died, and our life is hidden with Christ in God.
    When Christ your life appears,
    then you too will appear with him in glory.
    Quite an unbelievable promise. Quite an unbelievable reality. Live the gift. Celebrate perhaps with Easter bread and other holiday foods along with friends and family. Celebrate with Eucharist, the memorial Christ gave as gift and asked us to celebrate. 
    Even be the yeast for the bread as Corinthians directs. It is now time to accept the commission to preach the good news and to act on it. Offer the forgiveness and love that Jesus extended throughout his life and poured from his whole being from the Cross.
    See the special hymn, the Sequence following the reading: (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/041722.cfm)
    It is a dramatic dialog between a questioner who asks Mary of Magdala: Tell us what (and whom) you saw on the road (the way). Be moved by her witness:
    Christ, my hope, our hope, risen!
    See John 20:11-18 for the full story.
    If you said each morning: This is the day the Lord has made!
    How might that guide your thinking, feeling, reflecting, discerning, and acting
    throughout the day?

Palm Sunday, April 10 - Wednesday, April 13

List of 4 items.

  • Palm Sunday, April 10

    Palm Sunday presents two tonalities: Jesus’ dramatic entrance into Jerusalem on a colt never ridden before, symbol of royalty, and readings that encompass the passion.
    Jesus has been a threat to those in “privileged positions.” In the Garden of Gethsemane, he chooses to stay the course of his life call. “His obedience is to divine love for all humanity and to the prophetic mission to release all who are bound by sin and suffering . . . “*
    Psalm 22, the desperate lament beginning in an agonizing cry My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? An unanswerable question? Jesus alludes to the entire psalm, including the segment expressing gratitude for deliverance, by saying its first line. Read the whole psalm and read Psalm 31.
    Is there any way you can keep watch with crucified people?
    Is there any way you can accompany anyone neglected or abused or searching for faith?
    Is there any way you can share or even surrender a privilege
    from a “privileged position”?
    *Sister Barbara E. Reid, Abiding Word: Sunday Reflections for Year C, p.32.
  • Monday, April 11

    The reading from Isaiah characterizes the Messiah in precious terms of closeness to the Divine
    A Servant upheld;
    A Chosen One so pleasing;
    A Prophet Inundated with God’s Spirit;
    A Teacher to all the ends of the earth;
    A Bringer of Justice to every nation;
    A Freer of Prisoners;
    A Restorer of Sight to the blind;
    A Personification of the Covenant, God’s binding relationship.
    This Messiah, grasped by the hand of God, is utterly gentle, careful in handling something bruised so as not to break it, tending a smoldering wick so as not to extinguish it. The Psalm response further highlights this Messiah as the Light guiding us on our way through troubles and tribulations. Following this Light leads to salvation.
    The Gospel situates Jesus at the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus thus recalling the critical action of Jesus in raising Lazarus from the dead. It was a discerned (we recall Jesus took his time setting out) and critical action which set the direction with the authorities and Judas leading to his death. Jesus, in defending Mary anointing his feet with precious oil, connects the action symbolically with anointing for his burial. In a way, this prophetically highlights the fidelity of the women followers of Jesus present at his crucifixion and death and at his tomb.
    How is Christ your Light?
    How do you need Christ to be your Light?
    How will you maintain presence to Christ as faithful disciple?
  • Tuesday, April 12

    Isaiah indicates that the Messiah was called from birth. Psalm 71 sings of the call. 
    The Gospel attests that God will be glorified in Jesus and will glorify Jesus. At the moment of Jesus’ recognizing his betrayer, he also senses God’s ultimate protection and promise, glimpsing his vindication in resurrection.
    Be hopeful as an ultimate act of faith leading to living out the joy of the Gospel’s good news.
    How will you live in hope today?
    How will you witness to the joy of the Gospel through your words and actions?
    How will you celebrate being called from birth?
  • Wednesday, April 13

    The Gospel is an indictment of any person, group, corporate owner, government entity that would make a profit off the backs of the oppressed: selling a human person for 30 pieces of silver.
    The Isaiah reading and the Psalm Response seem to echo each other as prophecies about the Suffering One. Lay the readings out side by side, so to speak, as blueprints of Jesus’ impending passion. Meditating on them, mentally imaging their sense descriptions, letting oneself identify with the speaker’s tactile and psychological experiences: all this will penetrate a sensitive mind, draw a responsive heart, ultimately make the pray-er one with Jesus.
    Is. 50:4: Maybe you are weary and need a wise person to lift your spirits.
    Or maybe you are called to speak a word of encouragement to the weary.
    Stay with Jesus and meditate on Psalm 69
    which describes the shame and suffering Jesus will endure.

Sunday, April 3 - Saturday, April 9

List of 7 items.

  • Sunday, April 3

    The readings today have profound messages to ponder. Take time to reflect on them:
    I have been taken possession of by Christ Jesus.
    May I gain Christ and be found in him.
    Return to me with your whole heart.
    (Yes, your whole heart, nothing less.)
    I am doing something new!
    Imagine how the the woman “caught in adultery” and “brought” to Jesus felt toward Jesus who said to her: Has anyone condemned you? (No one, Sir.) Neither do I condemn you. Go your way. (NVS) Imagine how her heart expanded with love for Jesus who proclaimed her value and dignity.
    How will you love and serve Christ with your whole heart?
  • Monday, April 4

    One of the most dramatic stories in scripture is recounted today from the book of Daniel. It can be read from the critical angle of condemnation of unjust judges and judgements. It can also be read from inside the mind and heart of the innocent Susanna facing a seemingly inescapable dilemma but courageously discerning the right, Through her tears addressing God who knows all hidden things, she trusted in the Lord wholeheartedly. 
    Imagine Susanna in seemingly helpless circumstances resulting from false accusations potentially leading to her death saying Psalm 23:
    Even though I walk in the dark valley, I fear no evil:
    For you are at my side.
    Imagine anyone on death row saying lines from Psalm 23 about walking in the shadow of death.
    Imagine people in warring countries reciting these words.*
    Let us pray with magnanimous hearts that all facing unjust sentences or the inhumanity of war may live to recite the redemptive verses of Psalm 23.
    On behalf of whom might you pray:
    Even though I walk in the dark valley,
    I fear no evil; for you are at my side.
    Pray the whole psalm 23 with a spirit of hope for any and all
    facing heavy realities.
  • Tuesday, April 5

    The Gospel asks: Who is Jesus? Ecumenical Councils wrestled with the profound question of the full humanity and full divinity of Jesus. (See Consider Jesus: Waves of Renewal in Christology by Elizabeth A. Johnson, for the development of doctrine.)
    Words from the Nicene Creed affirm our faith in Jesus:
    God from God
    Light from Light 
    True God from True God
    Begotten, not made;
    One in being with the Father
    Through him all things were made.
    Jesus, Word made flesh, living among us, teaching, preaching, healing, praying, joining meals, celebrating the Passover, subjected to torture and death.
    Answer Jesus’ question to you:
    But who do you say that I am?
  • Wednesday, April 6

    In response to the extraordinary story of the faithful brothers, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego observed walking around in the white hot furnace unscathed, a psalm-like hymn of praise is proclaimed: 
    Blessed are you in the Temple of your holy glory.
    Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom.
    Blessed are you in the firmament.
    Blessed are you who look into the depths.
    Blessed are you praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.
    The verse before the Gospel calls for a generous heart and perseverance.
    Consider ways you can be “generous of heart” today.
    Consider composing a psalm of praise for all the wonders of the world
    and all the marvelous things God has done for you.
  • Thursday, April 7

    What’s in a name? The Catechism of the Catholic Church suggests that a name is an icon of a person. Our baptismal name is part of the ceremony of incorporating us into the Community of Faith. Confirmation invites us to choose an additional saint to imitate for a virtue. Other occasions involve adding or changing formal names. In less formal circumstances, we might have been given nicknames as a symbol of friendship. In the Genesis reading, Abram’s name is changed to Abraham to indicate his call. 
    The Gospel is theologically revelatory about Jesus’ divinity: Abraham rejoiced to see my day...Before Abraham, I AM.
    In John’s Gospel, Jesus refers to himself in many ways with the lead “I am,” among them: the Bread of Life; the Way and the Truth and the Life; the Resurrection and the Life.
    Give Jesus the name he is to you....Perhaps Friend, Shepherd, Savior...
  • Friday, April 8

    As Holy Week approaches, there is more than foreboding about what is ahead for Jesus. The Gospel begins with stones and rocks being picked up by the listeners to Jesus. Jesus declares: The Father and I are one. Jesus’ true identity leads to disdain and hatred by the authorities. Yet Jesus counters their doubts by saying: Look at my works. I am performing my Father’s works.
    Consider the works of Jesus.
    Deepen your faith in Jesus’ works for you.
  • Saturday, April 9

    The religious authorities are planning to kill Jesus. There is a black pall over his life and works right now.
    Consistent with the paradoxes of Christianity, the liturgy, while drawing Jesus and us closer to the passion, also promises the hopefulness of revelation, the Good News of God’s protection:
    The Lord will guard us, as a shepherd guards his flock.
    So Make for yourself a new heart and a new spirit. Seek God today with a listening and open heart.
    Ask God: What do you want to reveal to me today?
    What would you have me do for you today?

Sunday, March 27 - Saturday, April 2

List of 7 items.

  • Sunday, March 27

    When I saw the sculpture of “The Return of the Prodigal Son,” by Ivan Mestrovec in the Chapel of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame University, it took my breath away.
    It tangibly portrays the love sculpted into the hands of the father embracing the head of the son. The father is kind and merciful in the way we holds the son with indescribable tenderness. The father is slow to anger. In fact, he’s given up all thought of berating the son. The son is well-aware of his own fool-hardy presumptions and greed and profligacy.
    The father knew who he was as father. The son was beginning to guess who he was as son.
    Maybe this is our posture for Lent: kneeling in front of and actually against the most loving parent accepting us as we are no matter what.
    Beautiful Psalm 34 “comes true” in so many ways for the son re-incorporated into the family: at the banquet, he is truly tasting the goodness of his father’s love; not only attired with new garments but honored as beloved, he is looking radiant with joy.
    So there’s not much the son won’t do for the father...And the family...Now.
    But there are some challenges in making up with the skeptical brother, the begrudging brother. The story isn’t over yet.
    How might you be expressing your parental or sibling love
    or daughter of / son of love?
    What do you want to lay at the feet of God?
  • Monday, March 28

    The prophet whose voice we hear in the third book of Isaiah is radically confident in the pending action of God: Creation of a New heaven and a New earth. Don’t we long for such a re-creation. Aren’t we desperately wishing for a turn-over of unjust systems and global-induced and global-affecting powers.
    This yearning for universal goodness, truth, beauty; this ache for renewal is not impossibly distant. The response imagines a turn-around by “morning.” Humility leads to vision. Grace empowers concrete actions. 
    Do we not see it? Pray for prophetic vision to imagine what could and should be.
    Then pray toward that vision; act with one action within your capacity or a bit beyond.
    The Gospel asks for impossible things. A “royal” official of Herod in Capernaum, he did not go to the powerful Herod, but was lead by faith to Jesus. The official has come a two day journey through the mountains to reach Jesus. He had to leave his sick son.
    He pleads: Please come down and heal my son who is near death but Jesus turned to concentrate on the crowd scolding the skeptics about demanding a sign and thus delaying response to the royal official to challenge conversion.
    The mountainous terrain didn’t put the official off nor did Jesus’ comment about the people wanting a sign. The royal official’s faith cut right through even a rebuke as he pleaded peremptorily: PLEASE...COME DOWN...HEAL MY SON!
    Furthermore, his faith leapt up to the challenge of not having Jesus come in person, the original way he thought healing would have to occur.
    What do you want Jesus to reach out to you about?
    What graces do you need to take discerned actions to heal the world?
  • Tuesday, March 29

    Tuesday, March 29, 2022
    Do you want to be healed? Jesus’ addresses the man by the pool perceived to have healing power. The man waited perseveringly for 38 years with the recurring dilemma of not having anyone to immerse him when the water was stirred.
    Ironically, Jesus’ enemies turn this deeply religious act of human compassion into a political debate. How often the religious leaders miss the forest, the holistic healing, for the trees, the minutiae of time, place, method? They failed to perceive Jesus’ Messianic role of mercy, forgiveness, salvation and wanted religious gestures and deeds to be under their control. They conflated the religious realm with the political realm. Are there any parallel examples today of rigid control over the imparting of grace? The streams of water flow not from the civic strongholds but from the Sanctuary of the Temple.
    Do you want to be healed? Do you want to be more prayerful? more faithful? More hopeful? Then give your hand — your intentions, your efforts — give your hand to Jesus.
    Do you want to be healed?
    Say the lines from the Response often throughout the day:
    God you are my refuge, my strength, my ever-present help.
    Though the earth be shaken, though mountains plunge into the sea,
    Even though my life be tossed about, I will not fear. 
  • Wednesday, March 30

    Wednesday, March 30, 2022
    What an Easter feel of rejoicing in the personification and hyperbole of the heavens and earth and mountains singing because God will comfort like a Mother. God is celebrated in the psalm as holy, gracious, merciful, patient, kind, compassionate, faithful, good, just, NEAR.
    In the Gospel, Jesus reveals his closeness to God, his concern to do only what the one who sent him asks and all of what is asked. The Gospel is a meditation on the mystical relationship between Jesus and God. Ponder that expression of closeness to the Divine offered to us in sacraments and grace. Pray accordingly.
    Jesus, you are the resurrection and the life.
    I do not seek my own will, but the will of you who have sent me.
  • Thursday, March 31

    God so loved the world.
    Ponder such a glorious reality. Of course the creator loves the creation. God loves every facet of the universe: God saw that it was good. God loves every facet of Earth. God saw that it was good.
    God so loved the world.
    God would have us care for every dimension of creation. God would have us respond to its marvelousness, its ancient heritage, its fragility, its interdependence and ours, its dependence on us for its well-being and very survival.
    God so loved the world.
    God so loves every single person. Once confronted with the realization that eight billion people who have lived on Earth since evolving as Homo Sapiens may be waiting to meet us in heaven, we also realize that nearly eight billion rightfully call for our respect, reverence, interest, assistance, gratitude.
    Ask yourself the implications for your life of God so loving the world.
  • Friday, April 1

    In the readings we have both the depictions of harsh realities — With revilement and torture let is put him to the test — as well as the promises of faith — From all distress he will rescue him.
    The first reading is terrifyingly threatening from the enemies of Wisdom/Sophia. Evil is tangible in threats against the Holy One.
    But the Response promises that God is close to the broken-hearted rescuing them from evil-doers. God will save those crushed in spirit.
    The Gospel presents Jesus’ enemies trying to arrest him, but unable. The Passion is moving closer. Stay with Jesus throughout the day as much as you can.
    Is there anyone broken-hearted or crushed in spirit, you might be able to comfort with our faith or inspire with hope?
  • Saturday, April 2

    Teach your children’s children. What should we teach them? The story of our salvation: the blessings of our communal heritage of faith, the marvelous gifts of creation, the closeness of our Creator, the extraordinary blessings of our rescue, healing, and redeeming experiences.
    With whom can you share faith today?
    With whom can you connect to celebrate the gifts of creation and grace?

Sunday, March 20 - Saturday, March 26

List of 7 items.

  • Sunday, March 20

    Let us “take off our shoes” before all burning bushes in creation, whether a sunrise or a Gerber daisy or a waterfall or a field of wheat or a kitten or a mountain or an acorn cracked open and sprouting a five inch stem with a couple lovely lined oak leaves.
    Let us “take off our shoes” in awe and wonder also in the presence of a person full of grace and goodness in whom there is no guile, whose heart is open in welcome to any and all.
    Let us “take off our shoes” before any literal or symbolic focus of prayer in church or in our home.
    The Gospel contains a kind of action parable envisioning a fruitless fig tree failing to blossom for three consecutive years with an order to cut it down. Surprisingly, the farmer asks the owner for a year of reprieve with the depicting of the care-taker fertilizing it, watering it, pruning it, nourishing and nurturing it. The arborist could be said to be standing in for the God of the psalm response who is “slow to anger and abounding in kindness.”
    Toward whom would you like to be “slow to anger and, even more, abounding in kindness?"
  • Monday, March 21

    The psalm verse personifies the mystical yearning of the soul for God using the image of a thirsting deer longing for fresh, running water. God is the source of the psalmist’s gladness and joy. The psalmist desires to pray at the altar so as to be close to God. Becoming a mystic is to take on the mind and heart of Jesus.
    Rancor against Jesus intensifies in the Gospel. Contemplate Jesus in the Gospel experiencing the wrath of people being radically nationalistic to the point of disavowing a cure by the prophet Elisha of someone of another nationality and creed.
    If there is anything Jesus is noted for it is inclusiveness. He never hesitates to draw in a sinner, a tax collector, an accused adulterer, a public thief, a person up in a tree, a leper, a blind man, a stooped woman, a hemorrhaging woman, a person of another faith, children.
    Who makes you ill at ease? Why?
    Whom might you be called to invite in to: Your home? Your church?
    Your workplace? Your friend group? Your discussion group? Your heart?
  • Tuesday, March 22

    The Gospel might remind us of the catalyzing word “bondmaid” from the story of The Dictionary of Lost Words: a woman indentured for a family debt for life. In response to Peter’s question of how many times should we be willing to forgive, Jesus as much as says infinitely many! Besides stopping Peter up short with that norm of powers of ten, Jesus then dramatically illustrates un-forgiveness vs. forgiveness.
    In terms of our own seeking of forgiveness, we are guided by the readings and psalm response to admit that we have been brought low because of our own sin: Admit it.
    And then accept the kindness, compassion, and great mercy God extends with a contrite and humble heart.
    What commissions or omissions, in humility and truth, do you want to throw on the mercy of God?
    Why might you want to pray for a humble and contrite heart relative to forgiveness you might hope to receive or impart?
  • Wednesday, March 23

    As the quote from Job entitling the book Ask the Beasts suggests, learn from nature. Consider not only the lilies of the field and birds of the air of spring and summer but even the colorful and dropped leaves of fall and snow spread like wool and frost strewn like ashes of winter. Attend to the messages of God’s creation in every season and time of day. And attend to God’s messages in scripture.
    Ponder again the commandments, the beatitudes, the norms of judgment involving works of mercy for a person Jesus-identified. Ponder Matthew’s Gospel, Chapters 5-7.
    Which do you especially ask for grace to practice:
    Peacemaking; poverty of spirit; acting for justice; 
    Meekness; mercy; purity of heart; giving comfort
    to those mourning or persecuted?
  • Thursday, March 24

    Yes, at times these last two years, we have yearned for lighter-hearted topics but sometimes we might be graced if we faced some stark realities, even “brutal facts.” After all, Lent is a time for conversion, restoration, transformation. If we listen to God’s voice, we are assured of being God’s People. We certainly want God to be our God.
    Lent is a time for expanding our hearts and minds. On the one hand, we are called to look inward. On the other, we are called to reach outward. Penitential practices can come in a variety of meaningful forms. 
    A Lenten practice might include making the effort to be involved in the universal Synod preparation at your parish or diocesan level. (Do look into this if you have not heard anything or been invited to participate or accepted such an invitation.)
    A Lenten practice might involve responding to national and world news of others in situations of mass violence. (Take whatever action you can on behalf of major causes far or near, refugees, wars and their aftermaths, refugees from wars and climate catastrophes.)
    In what regard might you need to unharden your heart?
    Respond to God’s voice today in scripture, in your heart, in the news, in a person in need, in a harsh reality.
  • Friday, March 25

    What a glorious feast, The Annunciation to Mary, anticipating all the rest of the Great Feasts, Christmas; Easter; Pentecost. In a sense it is the feast of the Hail Mary prayer. Mary’s call parallels calls to other prophets:
    A commission You are full of grace; the Lord is with you.
    An objection: How shall this be?
    An assurance: The Holy Spirit will come upon you.
    And admonition not to fear: Do not be afraid.
    A sign: The child born of you shall be called the child of the most high.
    An assent: Be it done according to your Word.
    Mary soon speaks prophetically in the Magnificat. If we say YES to the call, we will be “seized by grace.”* (Barbara Reid, O.P.) We will become worthy to live as a disciple and to preach prophetically.
    What is one action you can take today in living out the prophetic call of your Baptism, e.g., to preach the Word, the Good News, in all seasons?
  • Saturday, March 26

    Scripture promises that God will bind up our wounds but we have to go to God and be willing to show our wounds. Let your heart be pierced by God’s love so much more than by your own guilt. God’s love is so insistent, so beyond imagining that there is no time to stay a moment too long with our guilt.
    I desire mercy, not sacrifice, a heart humble and contrite...
    What can I do today to show my delight in the Lord?
    {living out the Ten Commandments in personal, social, family, work and other public arenas;
    applying the moral law to ethical realms; working toward restorative and systemic justice;
    acting on preferential care for the poor or vulnerable or marginalized}
    {developing a tolerance for ambiguity, thinking inclusively beyond hierarchical or binary either/ors}
    {seeking some reconciliation of apparent opposites}
    {analyzing difference with appreciating difference; intellectual skills with social and emotional intelligence}

Sunday, March 13 - Saturday, March 19

List of 7 items.

  • Sunday, March 13

    In a dramatic scene of the Gospel, a theophany or manifestation of who Jesus really is takes place on the mountain of revelation. While the disciples slept, Jesus prayed and gradually became dazzling white, an aura indicating that God claimed him as chosen, as Son, as beloved, thus preparing him for any and all ahead.
    God earnestly exhorts us: LISTEN TO HIM.
    Seek a bit of quiet today so that you can listen more deeply.
    Close your eyes and imagine climbing the mountain away from the day’s distractions and concerns to a “place” (maybe a corner of your heart) in which you can commune with the Divine Guest of your soul. Expect to hear that you are special to God who is well-pleased with you. There’s nothing more to do or say but to be silent. Let God be:

    Envision Jesus as Light and Salvation.
    For what do you need Light?
    In what ways do you need Salvation?
    Hear God saying to you that you are beloved.
  • Monday, March 14

    There is a first person confession: You are an awesome God, yet we have sinned.

    But this is not the dominant message of the readings although it won’t hurt us to do a bit of soul-searching. However, do not stop with focus on self and personal failings. Leap out to the expanding and expansive Word with the description of God’s lavishness.

    God’s lavishness is so much more than a good measure of recompense or ‘payment’ for good deeds and a life well-lived. We experience it as unbelievable abundance: grace upon grace; gift upon gift.

    The image of the grain portioned out as an adequate, yes, more than generous measure is further pressed down so more can be added, then shaken together, then fully filled up beyond full to overflowing (endless), implying continuing sharing out...Poured Into our laps, no less. This unlimited generosity of God must touch our hearts today and move us to respond in limitless ways:

    in a hope-full attitude;
    in acceptance of others;
    in service in some form;
    in simply doing a favor for another;
    in earnest prayer for any and all suffering;
    in assuming the responsibilities and burdens of leadership;

    On whom can you check in today?
    Whose burdens can you lift?
  • Tuesday, March 15

    The readings are about serious conversion, from the lowest depths to highest virtue. Neither the prophet nor Jesus mince words.

    What if the sinners of the first reading heard Jesus’ words from the gospel, they might be stopped in their tracks at the paradoxes:
    If you are exalted, you will be humbled.
    If you humble yourself (What? Me?) then you will be exalted. (Hmmm.)

    What if the sinners of the Gospel read Isaiah’s radical reversal:
    If your sins are crimson scarlet, they can become whiter than snow,
    whiter than white.

    So our task for today is to “learn to do good.” Isaiah suggests we can LEARN how to do good by attending to the orphan or the widow or the outcast, the marginalized: for whatever reason: looks, attire, condition, race, ethnicity, religion or lack thereof, gender, political leanings, past commissions or omissions…

    Learn from someone today.
    Attend to someone today.
  • Wednesday, March 16

    It’s not easy being a prophet. Jeremiah is presented as a figure of the rejected prophet. It’s not easy even speaking the truth in love because one might meet with rejection. But the prophet should be willing to face rejection because what is at stake is speaking on behalf of God: naming the realities of the present time that must be addressed if the Kindom of God is to evolve and thrive. So nothing less than salvation is at stake.

    But we might wonder: What does that role have to do with me? Baptism and Confirmation call us to be prophets. Our model for prophetic courage is Mary in the Magnificat declaring that God has put down the mighty from their thrones AND lifted up the lowly and oppressed. We cannot escape this call as Christians and people of good will.

    So pray to the Holy Spirit of wisdom to pierce through the chaos whether on a global, national, local, family level, and examine the signs of the times interpreting the here and now in the light of the Gospel. (Matthew 5-7) Then do speak the truth in love.

    What conversion to goodness would you be willing to suffer for?
  • Thursday, March 17

    Some Lenten readings seem like downers. Jeremiah’s warning today is meant to get attention. He uses striking images for the person whose heart turns from God trusting only in distractions: barren bush, empty earth, a lava of waste. But thankfully, these images are contrasted with a fruit-bearing tree with green leaves and well-watered roots near a moving stream in a verdant land.

    The Gospel, too, presents contrasting images: a wealthy man, Dives, with luxurious banquets ignoring the poor beggar outside his door. In visually interpreting this passage, the St. John Bible’s illumination depicts Lazarus welcomed into heaven by Abraham and ministered to by angels while flames of hell surround Dives, the rich man blind to the suffering other.

    What Work of Mercy might you do in some creative form today?

    feed the hungry; give water to the thirsty;
    clothe the naked; shelter the homeless;
    visit the sick; visit the imprisoned;
    ransom the captive; bury the dead

    Or what Work of Mercy might you allow yourself to receive?

    Comfort in sadness; counsel in doubt;
    Spiritual support; interpretation of scripture;
    Forgiveness; deeper explanation of the faith
  • Friday, March 18

    God so loved the world, he gave his Son.
    Both readings speak of rejection, the first, of Joseph by his brothers; the second, of the son of a vineyard owner by the lessees. We cannot help but think of the rejection of Jesus ahead in his passion.
    God so loved the world, he gave his Son.

    Although Jesus recognizes that the Chief Priests and Pharisees oppose him to the point of wanting to arrest him but for fearing the crowds, he perseveres in his mission. Jesus died because of fidelity to his call and in consistency with and confirmation of his words and deeds. “Jesus died as a result of the mission to which he stayed faithful – the mission of proclaiming and making present the Reign of God...He suffered for the way he loved God and neighbor.”*

    Simply sit with Jesus today.
    Ask for graces for persevering with your call in life at this particular moment.

    *E.A. Johnson
  • Saturday, March 19

    Feasts, days for celebration, offer a reprieve from Lenten asceticisms. And rightly so. We should always keep in mind the vision of the culmination of Lent: Jesus’ resurrection. Our hope is grounded in the promise of new life.

    In the Gospel reading from Luke, Jesus’ parents are “astonished” finding him in the Temple instructing the officials. Dads – and moms – often find themselves astonished by something their child may do or say wondering “Where did that come from?” “How did she or he think of that?”

    Jesus spoke in the Spirit or, put another way, lived in a way that let himself be a mouthpiece of the Spirit. Each person created is uniquely the person the Creator chose. Each person manifests some aspect of the glory of God and the goodness of the Creator. Each of us can be a channel of grace and truth, even light for another, even renewed life.
    How might you manifest your truest self for the glory of God?

Sunday, March 6 - Saturday, March 12

List of 7 items.

  • Sunday, March 6

    Do you ever marvel: How did I inherit or come to the gift of faith? How did the Christian story reach me and touch me through a journey of over 2,000 years?

    Moses recounts the story of the Israelites which includes marvelous gifts: first fruits, milk and honey, signs and wonders...These are surely in our own Christian story.

    Think about our story in the origins of Christianity and your own story, your history and heritage, and your spiritual and communal gifts from your baptism on.

    Do you recall times of blessing?

    Were there moments of special graces? List some.

    Were there mountains to climb or desert experiences at some moments?

    Any crossroads?

    Thank God for the STORY of your journey in faith, even for the challenges.

    Remember: nothing is impossible for God. Hear God saying as you continue your Lenten Faith Journey. My grace is sufficient for you.

    Psalm 91 promises that we can call upon God for any troubles because we live under the shadow of the wings of the Most High.

    Because we have been so blessed in our Baptismal call in which we become Imago Dei, image of God, we might well be called to speak the Word to others today or in the future. For your own meditation, go to the desert with Jesus.

    For which blessings from your life story of faith do you want to thank God?
    What word of faith might you be called to share?
  • Monday, March 7

    A review of the version of the commandments in the first reading could well help us recall that the summation in the Golden Rule occurs across so many major religions. We share these norms and ideals across cultures.

    So like the young man seeking to be faithful to these practices yet desiring to practice his religion more deeply, we might ask: What more should I do this Lent?

    God simply says: Be HOLY. Be holy as I am holy!

    Now that might make us panic or, at least, bewilder us: Oh, no, really? I have to be “holy”? Don’t worry: God’s words to you are spirit and life.

    The Gospel presents the paths to holiness:
    Seeing any person in need of food, drink, clothing as our very Christ, the risen Lord among us.

    When I was hungry, YOU gave ME to drink.

    It’s that clear. Go ahead. Minister to Jesus all day.

    What calls are right in front of you?
    At the end of the day, recall who were Jesus to you.
  • Tuesday, March 8

    God’s Word is compared to elements of creation: rain and snow bringing forth grain and bread. Let God’s word be that POWERFUL IN YOU and then you will actually be “radiant with joy.” That brightness of spirit will attract others seeking the source of joy in a world of travail.

    The Gospel reflects on the word of God in the petitions of the Our Father:
    Your kingdom come. Pray for and act toward the realizing of God’s dream for earth and all on earth, God’s “kindom.”

    Give us our daily bread, including the Eucharist for which the term “daily” was coined in the New Testament.

    Forgive us our sins as we forgive others. Because God’s Holy Spirit is ever-present within us, we can receive grace to offer forgiveness. What a gift to receive and to give. That gift can melt hearts. 

    Today meditate on each line of the Our Father.

    For what do you want forgiveness?
    To whom can you offer forgiveness or encourage to seek God’s forgiveness, confident in God’s promise?
  • Wednesday, March 9

    Jesus liked short stories. He was quite familiar with Jonah’s dramatic story. He prophesies that Jonah in the whale for three days will be a sign of his entombment and resurrection. It seems a Holy Saturday entombment a prerequisite for an Easter hope?

    Animals as well as humans can be a means of salvation. The huge whale is an instrument of God’s saving of Jonah from a drowning death. You might not have signed your pet dog, cat, bird, or other pet with ashes but the first reading calls for both humans and beasts to be covered in sackcloth and ashes. Both species alike depend on breathable air and potable water and both share in suffering and longing for salvation. All creation “groans for salvation” (Romans 8:22). Thankfully, “God’s charity is broad enough for bears” and dogs and horses and all creatures. (See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHKdcEjnL38).

    The psalm verse suggests a sure means of salvation, a contrite heart, a humble heart.

    Contemplate the grandeur of God in all of Creation, from the creation of the cosmos to the evolving Earth.

    Contemplate the marvelous gift of God in your own creation.

    With a humble heart, ask God to reveal how precious you are.

    With a contrite heart, decide to choose to be more loving in grateful response.

    What is something unique about you for which you want to thank God?
    How might God be asking you to use your gifts to forward God’s dream?
  • Thursday, March 10

    Imagine, Queen Esther and her women friends prayed from dawn to dust.

    Imagine, she was given the strength for which she appealed and determined to carry out religious practices more faithfully.

    We can be renewed in a deeper than ever trust.

    In the Gospel, Jesus asserts that all prayers will be answered.

    For what do you ask?
    For what do you seek?
    For what are you knocking on the door of Christ’s heart?
  • Friday, March 11

    The psalms express the range of human emotions and spiritual and material needs. Today’s psalmist prays from the depths of desperation. On the one hand, the speaker is terrified of judgment but, on the other, trusts God’s extraordinary loving-kindness and mercy.

    Jesus is quite earnest in the gospel message which might propel us to call a relative, a neighbor, a colleague whom we might have neglected or with whom we might have some tension to make a gesture of reconciliation. Jesus might even be calling us to look into a process of restorative justice or mutual healing.

    To whom should you open your heart?
    To what group might you open your mind?
  • Saturday, March 12

    The Israelites asked God for the Law because they wanted to know how to act ideally and how to please God. Agreeing to live up to the ideals of the law reaps the incomparable benefit of being in a special relationship with God. That relationship results in elimination of many levels of concerns. As St. Augustine would express it: Love, and do what you will.

    The commandments imply virtues, for example, respect for a person’s name as an icon of the person (Keep holy the Lord’s name.); reverence for elders and patience with debilities (Honor your father and your mother.); prudence in self-care (Thou shalt not kill.)

    In reflecting on “the law” today, consider the commandments (Dt. 26) or the Beatitudes (Mt. 5:3-12) or the works of mercy, helpful guides to goodness and holiness (Mt. 25:31-46). Consider a focus on one of the following:

    To which commandment might you give more attention?
    Which beatitude do you feel called to practice more intentionally?
    Which spiritual work of mercy do you want to attend to?
    instruct the ignorant; counsel the doubtful;
    admonish the sinner; bear wrongs patiently;
    forgive offenses willingly; comfort the afflicted;
    pray for the living and the dead.

Wednesday, March 2 - Saturday, March 5

List of 4 items.

  • March 2: Ash Wednesday

    It is Lent. Turn to God. Conversion means a turning toward...We can engage in con-versions on many levels as Bishop Edward Braxton has suggested.

    Cosmic — a turning toward God’s revelation in the universe, all of creation, a cause for awe and wonder. This conversion reminds us of how “little” we are and how incalculably grand God is.

    Theistic — turning to God with our whole heart; acknowledgement of God creating and permeating all things and being in relationship to all and to us.

    Christocentric — turning to our Incarnate God sharing in total solidarity with us; reflecting on Jesus of the Gospels and living as a disciple.

    Ecclesial — turning to the community in sharing faith; joining our faith with a community of believers, joining in public communal praise of God in witness to God’s glory; gathering in a place of prayer to worship with others.

    Moral — turning toward others with reverence in renewed valuing; turning toward a higher level of love and self-giving; seeking the happiness and well-being of another as much as or even more than that of oneself.

    Intellectual — turning toward others who think or speak or appear or act differently; turning toward a more expansive way of thinking; humbly recognizing that life and realities have layers of complexity; making an effort to complement thinking with feeling; practicing the inclusive love of Jesus.

    Which conversion calls to me?
    How might I take a step toward greater love?
  • Thursday, March 3

    Having crosses to carry is inevitable in life. But the comforting gift is Christ accompanying us in carrying our crosses. Christ, fully human, suffered so many dimensions of human miseries.
    In his ministries to others, his heart was moved. In his final days his horrible experiences ran the gamut including shocking abandonment, total helplessness, public humiliation, inhuman cruelty, barbaric torture, dying and death. Adding to all was seeing his mother suffering. Imagine her suffering, too, at not being able to alleviate her son’s suffering.

    Pray with confidence for Christ’s support and comfort for you through whatever crosses you might be called to bear. Carry your crosses walking in God’s ways which involves choosing life fully. Taking up a cross with Christ can lead to more delight in the Lord.

         What cross do you want Christ to help you carry?
         Is there a cross you can help someone else carry?
  • Friday, March 4

    The Magnificat prayer (Luke 1:46-55) is a prayer of praise, joy, gratitude, and prophetic courage.

    Give your mind and heart to praise of God today. Be open to an experience of joy because you are loved unconditionally. Be moved to express thanks to God for uncountable gifts. In humility, have a heart “humble and contrite,” recognizing imperfections and failures to live up to ideals of charity and service. But at the same time, surrender to the limitless love of God who imparts mercy upon mercy.

    In genuine humility, acknowledge that you are called through Baptism and Confirmation to be prophetic, to speak and act for God. Pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit needed by prophets, Knowledge, Wisdom, Understanding, and Counsel, so that you can speak the truth with love. Reflect on the spiritual dimensions of happenings in your life and the lives around you. Pray for insights about the relationship of cosmic, world, national, local, church, and family to faith.

    Where is God in your personal experiences?
    Where is God in your relationships and interactions?
    Where is God in the current events of society, nation, church, and world?
    How is God’s kingdom enabled to evolve . . . Or blocked from evolving?
    What situations are supporting or disregarding people who are on the margins?
    What has humbled your heart?
  • Saturday, March 5

    The Gospel might have us ask: do we know any tax collectors or sinners? That question and its obvious answer cuts close to the bone. But the readings ask not only about ourselves as imperfect beings but also point to the nature of God in relation to our radical range of spiritual needs.

    The psalm speaks of the divine “abounding in kindness.”

    In a book of that title, Sister Elizabeth Johnson develops “the overflowing compassion of the living God, engaged with the struggles and suffering of the world.” We cannot escape God’s merciful love. God’s loving kindness embraces us no matter what.

    Picture God’s abounding kindness embracing you?
    Do you know anyone abounding in kindness?
    Can you picture yourself abounding in kindness? (Why else Lent?)
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Magnificat High School, a girls' Catholic college-preparatory high school, founded and sponsored by the Sisters of the Humility of Mary, educates young women holistically to learn, lead, and serve in the spirit of Mary’s Magnificat.