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Daily Reflections for Lent

EASTER SUNDAY
Fr. Brian Doerr, Vice Rector of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary

 

"And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow."
Matthew 28:3

 

The significance, the majestic and incompressible significance of this most Sacred Day, is expressed somewhat closely (but even still inadequately) by an ancient text that some attribute to St. Ambrose of Milan and that others believe is even more ancient.

 

As the Easter Liturgy of the Church begins, the sacred fire, the Light of Christ, now glowing atop the Paschal Candle, enters the nave of the Church and is taken to the Ambo and is incensed. The minister, a Deacon of the Word, vested in a white dalmatic, calls to our mind the angel of the Gospel, who stood next to the empty tomb to proclaim to all the world the joyful news, “He is risen, as He said!” The Sacred Scripture records, “And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow” (Matthew 28:3).

 

And the angelic Deacon begins to proclaim one of the most beautifully profound texts preserved by the Church: “Exalt! Let them exalt, hosts of heaven… Be glad! Let the earth be glad… Rejoice! Let Mother Church exalt!

 

What follows has the power to destroy the grip of the Evil One over all the world! The text continues to proclaim “the awesome glory of this holy night,” the night that saw the work of Christ complete, the work that “paid Adam’s debt” and “wiped clean the record of our ancient sinfulness.” “This is the night, when Christ broke the prison bars of death and rose victorious from the underworld” “THIS,” the text demands, “This is the night!”

 

And, in the midst of the power and glory and triumph of so great a risen Savior crashing forth upon the earth, the text turns radically to a truth so beautiful, so tender, that those who listen and truly hear, men or women, girl or boy, feel tears dripping down their face: “O love, O charity beyond all telling, to ransom a slave you gave away your Son!”

 

What is this proclamation? One’s mind returns to the desert where nomads traveled about and are caught or raided by a marauding party and you, a worthless slave, is manhandled and taken from your master and his tribe. Contemplating the violence, abuse and, perhaps, death to come, you are succumb to a dark and hopeless despair. Then it happens: you look up from the darkness, utterly stunned to see your master at the edge of the camp, ready to exchange his own son into slavery to win your release. It is not comprehensible! Nobody would believe it; you, yourself, do not even believe it.

 

And yet, that is what we proclaim! Man, you and me, captured by so great an enemy as Satan, a fallen-spirit of Archangelic Power, tears us from the life of the Father… who, in turn, pursues us over the centuries until he approaches us, at the edge of Satan’s camp… and with an unfathomable depth of love, comes before us, beaten down and enslaved as we are, and makes the offer of His Son for YOU. Sweet unfathomable exchange! His life for your life; too great for us even to conceive.

 

What good would life had been to us, had Christ not come to us as our redeemer!

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for the brightness of Your light and for ransoming us back from slavery to freedom. You have gives us new life in You. May we forever live in Your life and love. Amen.

Acts 10:34, 37-43; Ps 118: 1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Col 3:1-9 or 1 Cor 5:6-8; Jn 20:1-9 or Mt 28: 1-10

HOLY SATURDAY
Deacon Zak Barry, S ‘14

 

"Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep."
– text from Office of Readings for Holy Saturday

 

This truly is a strange day. Lent is over and Good Friday just behind us, but Easter isn’t here yet. For the day, we’re stuck in an in-between period.

 

But what was this like for the disciples? We’ve just reflected on the passion and death of our Lord – the events that took place leading up to His death and the details of His crucifixion. This is part of our faith, a practice into which we enter every year as a Church. The challenge for us is to live these days with a reflective spirit and a recollected heart. But over 2000 years ago, the challenge for the disciples was confusion and ignorance.

 

They did not know the whole story, because they were living it as it unfolded. Christ tried to prepare them, but they could not understand. They didn’t know what was happening, but even had they anticipated the resurrection, they would have been overcome. Their teacher and friend, with whom they had dined less than two days earlier had suffered a horrible death and wasn’t even given time for a proper burial. Worse yet, they had almost all abandoned Him at the hour of His greatest need, even denying their relation to Him.

 

Surely they were in shock. And perhaps we feel some of that same disorientation even today. We have spent several weeks of Lent preparing for these days, meditating on our lives and on God’s great mercy, striving to better answer Christ’s call to live as sons and daughters of the Kingdom of God. And if we have allowed our liturgical participation in these last few days to work in our heart and soul, entering into meditation on the last days of Christ’s life, today we may well feel spiritually drained.

 

What are we to do today, after the Lord’s death but before His resurrection? It is a day of silence. Today, we meditate on the gift we have been given in Christ and the profound effect His death had on all of creation. And of course, we look forward not only to celebrating His Easter resurrection but also to His second coming.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, help me to enter into the mystery of Your death and resurrection. Stir up in me Your Holy Spirit so that my participation in these holiest of days may bear fruit in my soul to eternal life. Amen.

Gn 1:1-2 or Gn 1: 1, 26-31a, Ps 104: 1-2, 5-6, 10, 12-14, 24, 35 or Ps 33:4-7, 12-13, 20, 22; Mat 28: 1-10

GOOD FRIDAY
Deacon Matthew Capadano, S '14

 

"I thirst."
John 19: 28-30

 

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the scripture), "I thirst." A bowl full of vinegar was present; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the vinegar, He said, "It is finished;" and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

 

Good Friday recounts the day when Jesus is falsely accused, scourged to the point of visible bones and muscle fibers, rejected by His people, spit upon, made to carry a cross which he didn't earn, crucified, and then in his most desperate moment, He was given vinegar to drink. And why? Love.

 

During these moments of pain, humiliation, and total abasement, Jesus had in His mind and heart our faces; your face. With each lashing, mockery, thorn, step, nail, and drop of blood He imagined you and said, "I do this because I love you."

 

It is due to this love we venerate the cross today. We reverently approach and kiss a device of torture and corporal punishment because it is through this apparatus that Jesus proves His total, perfect, and undeserved love for us... For you!

 

On this Good Friday, do not allow yourself to focus on your sins, Jesus has done this for you today. Instead, focus on the incredible love Jesus has for you. Pray with the image of Jesus, bloodied and broken upon the cross and picture how He looks at you. Receive the love you see in His eyes, receive His mercy. By focusing on Him and not yourself, by receiving His love and mercy, you are quenching His thirst, because He thirsts for you to receive His love.

 

Listen to Him. Jesus says, "I thirst." How are you going to quench His thirst?

 

Loving Jesus. I come before You with the desire to quench Your thirst upon the cross. All You want is for me to receive Your love and merciful forgiveness. May I satisfy Your thirst by freely receiving Your love, and by so doing, give You what Your heart desires. Help me not to give You the vinegar of self-reliance with attempts to earn Your grace, I only ask You to help me understand just how free and complete Your love and forgiveness are. Amen.

Is 52: 13-53:12, Ps 31: 2, 6, 12-13, 15-17, 25, Heb 4: 14-16; 5:7-9; Jn 18: 1-19:42

HOLY THURSDAY
Deacon Corey Krengiel, S‘14

 

"If I, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do."
John 13:14-15

 

A model to follow. A way of life. The way of service. The way of: “If you want to be the greatest of all, then be the servant of all.” It is a way of following Jesus -of being Jesus - and of making our Lord’s Sacred Heart present as we respond to His prompting toward true, sacrificial love.

 

Is it more natural to look out for ourselves in the world or to look out for others? Which is more supernatural? As he awaits his death on the cross, Jesus calls us toward the supernatural -that is, He calls us out of our selfishness, to a higher, or “super” way of life. It is when we respond to that call, outward and upward, that we realize it is more natural to be supernatural. Our hearts and minds were designed to serve, and the designer become flesh reminds us of that by filling up a bowl with water and washing the Apostles’ dirty feet. A model to follow. The way of service. It is our path to happiness and our path to eternal life. It’s more natural to be supernatural.

 

Lord Jesus, help me to make the life a service my way of life, and so imitate You who laid down Your life on the cross for the salvation of the whole world. Amen.

Ex 12: 1-8, 11-14, Ps 116: 12-13, 15-18, 1 Cor 11: 23-26; Jn 12:1-15

WEDNESDAY OF HOLY WEEK
Mikayla Stratton, C ‘17

 

"…The Lord has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him that is weary. Morning by morning, He wakens, he wakens my ear as those who are taught…"
Isaiah 50:4

 

A few thoughts came to me as I encountered this reading. The other day my Theology class was discussing Moses. Parallels can be drawn between Isaiah’s texts to the classical story of Moses.

 

Moses was an average guy. When he was called by God to “let His people go,” Moses initially tried to dodge the bullet. He asked, “Who am I to go to Pharaoh?” and he even dared to ask God -the creator of everything, the omnipotent and omniscient, the mysterious voice coming from a bush -His name! But God assured Moses He would be with him when Moses went to Pharaoh, and promised Moses he would be capable of following God’s instructions.

 

In today’s reading, it says, “the Lord has given me the tongue of those who are taught” and He opens our ears so that we can understand. So sure, Moses had his brother Aaron to help him speak to Pharaoh, but he was able to lead the Israelites through the desert and beyond many instances of unfaithfulness. Through God’s help, Moses’ led the people to the Promised Land. Moses was able to “sustain with a word” God’s weary people.

 

So too, does God sustain us day by day. He has given us - average people like Moses - the ability to know and understand His ways. We have been given the gift of evangelizing and helping others with God’s teachings and Word. Sometimes we try to dodge the bullet. We say “who are we to do those things? Who am I to understand God’s ways?” God is mysterious, infinite, and all powerful, but He gives us the ability to spread the good news and He gives us the ears to hear it.

 

During this Lenten season, let us respond to God who is calling us. Let us accept God makes us worthy by giving us the graces we need. And let us take action to follow His instructions.

 

Lord, let us be the work of Your hands and may our hands do Your work. Amen.

Is 49: 1-6, Ps 71: 1-6, 15, 17; Jn 13:21-33, 36-38

TUESDAY OF HOLY WEEK
Allison Boyd, C ‘14

 

"So he dipped the morsel and [took it and] handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. After he took the morsel, Satan entered him. So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly."
John 13: 26-27

 

On this last Tuesday of Lent before we enter into the Easter Triduum and celebrate the life-changing day that gives us all eternal hope, we contemplate the one who chose despair. Judas betrayed Jesus, but many speculate that this was not his greatest sin. Instead it was he despaired, he lost hope. What a different story it would be if Judas had come to Jesus on the cross, asking for forgiveness. Would our Lord in His infinite mercy and kindness not have forgiven him? Would he not have had the opportunity to repent and become one of the greatest saints? What a witness he could have been. And yet he chose death over life.

 

How many times have we done the same? How many times have we chosen the mirage of wealth and worldly happiness over true and eternal life? We should take a lesson from Judas and not let that be the end of the story. Always, always return to Him, and especially around this time, return to Him on the cross, the one who, by choosing death, restored us to life. When we feel beaten by the world, by our own sins and mistakes, remember the life-giving miracle that now is only a few days away. Instead of turning our back on God in our moments of weakness, and looking for comfort in the world that will never be found, we must set our faces like flint toward our cross, toward our Divine model, and ultimately toward our eternal salvation. We have an advantage that Judas did not: we know that we can have hope in the resurrection. So let us crucify ourselves with Christ, leaving this world and it’s temptations behind, so that we can one day rise to new life with Him.

 

Lord, in Your passion and death you showed that the road to salvation and eternal happiness is not an easy one. I pray that I will have the courage to follow You to the cross, to resist the temptations of the world and to stand firm in my commitment to You, no matter how difficult that might be, so that one day I can rise again to new life with You. With the intercession of your most blessed and loyal Mother, in Your name, I pray. Amen.

Is 49: 1-6, Ps 71: 1-4a, 5-6, 15, 17; Jn 13: 21-33, 36-38

MONDAY OF HOLY WEEK
Christine Saah, C ‘14

 

"Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."
John 12:7-8

 

Today's Gospel touches on several events, including the raising of Lazarus from the dead, Mary anointing Jesus’ feet, and Judas the Iscariot criticizing the actions of Mary as “wasting” the oil. Judas wanted to sell the oil and give the money to the poor. But Judas would ultimately betray Jesus, and is not truly concerned about the “poor.” I want to ask you the question about your motives as we are now nearing the end of Lent. Did you make sacrifices or do extra things more for yourself or for Jesus? Were you really concerned about the poor or is your love for others sincere?

 

Do not despair if you have traveled this far into Lent only to realize you didn’t give it your all. We all fall down, and let our weaknesses overtake us. What you can do is give these last few days to Jesus? Do it for Him, whatever He is calling you to do. It could be more prayer, more fasting, or less time on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. This is your chance to really bring it home, and what better way to do it than with a home run for Jesus. Even if you did great in this time of sacrifice, you can always do more. I encourage all of you to remain thankful for the way Jesus has been in your life, and has been able to be with us through the sacrament of the Eucharist. Jesus did say to Judas and Mary that they may not always have Him, because He was going to die. However, He conquered death and is always with us. We must be thankful for Jesus’ saving power in our own lives.

 

Jesus, I believe., help my disbelief. Jesus, I trust You., help me to trust You more. Jesus, I am weak, help me to find my strength in You. Help me to finish my Lenten season strong as I prepare for the celebration of Your death and resurrection. Amen.

Is 42: 1-7, Ps 27: 1-3, 13-14, Jn 12: 1-11

PALM SUNDAY THE PASSION OF THE LORD
Kelsey Kierce, C '16

 

"Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross."
Phil 2:7-8

 

This passage comes from St. Paul's letter to the Philippians. St. Paul wrote this letter while sitting in prison awaiting the possibility of death. Scholars believe in this passage Paul is quoting an early Christian hymn with which the Philippians would have been familiar. This hymn calls on the Philippians to imitate Christ, and today the hymn is calling on us to imitate Him.

 

Now, I know when most people gear up for Palm Sunday all they are thinking about is standing for the longest gospel reading ever-the Passion account. However, if we really let the readings of this day sink in we will rediscover the amazing love that Christ has for us. Christ, in all his Divine glory, came down to Earth and became human. He became one with us to show us how to live and how to love others as He loves us. As if this wasn't enough, He then died for our sins so that we may live in eternity with Him forever.

 

On this Palm Sunday, let us reflect on the humility that Christ exemplifies. Let us humble ourselves and become obedient to Him, who deserved none of what He suffered yet did so out of love for us.

 

Lord, thank You for doing such an unfathomable deed for someone as undeserving as me. Help me in humility to serve those around me. During this Holy week, empty me so that I may be filled with only You. Amen.

Is 50: 4-7, Ps 22: 8-9, 17-20, 23-24, Phil 2: 6-11; Mt 26: 14-27:66

SATURDAY 5TH WEEK
John Bilenki, C ‘17

 

"Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation."
John 11:47-48

 

In our Gospel passage from John today, we find the chief priests and Pharisees distressed, uneasy, and fearful after hearing of the miracles performed by the son of the carpenter, Jesus of Nazareth. They fear if He attracts more disciples who wish to share in His ministry and proclaim His teachings, then they will lose everything to the Romans - their Temple, power, riches, etc. They are attached to their success. They could never let go of all their hard work. The chief priests and Pharisees permitting a man who works on the Sabbath and eats with sinners endangers them greatly. But, think about it. What if they had allowed Him to continue preaching or perhaps even had submitted themselves to Him? The rest of the story would be much different.

 

How often do we find ourselves in distress like the chief priests and the Pharisees? How often do we hear the voice of the Lord in our hearts, calling us by name to be His disciples and to accept His will for our lives, and yet, reject it because we are afraid to let go of our personal gain and what we think is in our best interest? How often do we become angry or frustrated with God when things don’t go the way we planned?

 

Personally, I very often find myself distressed and struggling to accept the Lord’s call. I have such an attachment to what I have, to the plan which I envision is best. Christ offers us true fulfillment and happiness, but I’m afraid of letting Him take control. Also, I fear the uncertainty that comes with putting full trust in God.

 

But, if we make the effort, if we pray each day, if we trust in His help and protection, Christ will not fail us; He will lead us to joy and fulfillment. As we continue the journey with Christ to Calvary this Lent, let us take up our cross with Him. The Lord will never abandon us. With Him, our burden is light.

 

Don’t worry! He’s got it all under control.

 

Lord Jesus, grant us the courage to be witnesses to our Faith. Grant us the strength to surrender ourselves totally to You. Take our worry. Grant us peace in the uncertainty the future holds. Increase and ground our faith and trust, for it is in You and You alone we find true joy and fulfillment. Amen.

Ez 37: 21-28, Jer 31: 1-13; Jn 11: 45-56

FRIDAY 5TH WEEK
Jennifer Leavy, C ‘17

 

"The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."

 

During this time of Lent, as we put the Lord first in our hearts through prayer and sacrifice, we should not overlook the crucial role God plays in all our lives-our “rock.” When our lives are full of trouble, we should never struggle with them on our own. God will always be there for us, and we should always turn to him in our time of need. At some point in our lives we have mistaken rainfall for a hurricane, and wondered why it could ever happen to us or how we could ever survive. But we must always remember, especially in times of fear or sadness, that God is our home, our safe haven where peace and comfort awaits us. His vast love for us is the foundation, walls, and ceiling of the house that can never be destroyed or taken away from us. He is the beacon that shines through the storm and calls us towards salvation. Because of this, we can find strength and safety in God’s love. But God’s love isn’t just a place of shelter and refuge. It is also a “shield,” a “horn,” something we can use to defend ourselves against sin and whatever “storms” life can throw at us. God’s love isn’t just a consolation, but a means of purifying oneself. It is an opportunity to grow in our love of God, not just during this time of Lent, but all throughout the year.

 

Father, help me to trust in Your love for me, so I may find the strength to endure life’s burdens by seeking refuge with You. Amen.

Jer 20: 10-13, Ps 18: 2-7; Jn 10: 31-42

 
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