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Daily Reflections for Lent

SECOND WEEK OF LENT
Thursday, March 16
Mary Grace Ilardi                                                                             
FOCUS Team Leader

 

Man Who Trusts in Man

 

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
- Jeremiah 17:8

 

It seems as though we learn the same lessons over and over again in life. It is as though we forget what we know, and need to learn it again and again. This is certainly true for me with trusting the Lord. I have experienced what Jeremiah describes in the case of the “man who trusts in man.” He says that person is like a “shrub in the desert,” dwelling in the “parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.” This is what I feel like when I look to myself and the world for approval, security, and affirmation of my identity. For a while, it seems like my plans will work and that I can sustain happiness without God. But it is not long until I begin to lose steam, question the decisions I am making and the direction I am going in. I feel confused and inadequate and even feel loneliness, hopelessness, and despair. Talk about “parched places in the wilderness!”

 

What is God’s will for my life? He wants me to feel secure in Him, confident that my needs will be provided for and that I will be guided where I need to go. He wants me to find refreshment, to be free of fear and anxiety, to bear good fruit in my life and to be a blessing for others. These are the fruits of choosing, every day and every hour, to be dependent on God. I need to look to Him for approval, for my sense of safety and security, and for affirmation of my identity. This Lent, I want to deny myself things that will increase my awareness of how quickly I tend to look to worldly things to bring me comfort, security, etc. By    doing so, I have an opportunity to choose, again, to place my trust in the Lord who brings me life.

 

   This is what came to me when I prayed with Jeremiah 17 and Psalm  1:1-6. Put your trust in Me. Put all your hope in Me. Rely on Me for everything. You seek to perfect yourself with My Law; My Law is there to keep you close to Me. You try to apply My Truth to your life to be successful, happy, and prosperous. I am your prosperity. I am your life.   

I am your way. I am the happiness you seek. I am the fulfillment you desire.

 

You will keep on feeling the effects of the drought until you are planted by My waters. You will continue to feel weak. You will continue to despair and wonder if life can be good. You will continue to look for happiness. You will continue to ache.

 

Until you put your trust in Me, completely in Me. Be a fool in the eyes of the world and even in your own estimation. Foolishly follow Me with all that you are, hold nothing back, store nothing up, leave nothing out. I promise you will feel life again surging in you. You will feel hope. You will taste joy. You will experience rest in your mind, body, and spirit. You will not be anxious; you will feel secure and confident, protected, taken care of and loved.

 

Jesus, I choose to place my trust in you. I choose to hope for your promises to come true in my life. I am sorry for the many times I look to the world for fulfillment that will only come from You. Please help me to remember that You alone will satisfy the desires of my heart and to choose to live in a way that reflects Your truth. Amen.

 

Jer 17:5-10       Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6     Lk 16:19-31

SECOND WEEK OF LENT
Wednesday, March 15
Rachel Keifer
Class of 2020

How Far Will You Go for Christ?


 

“Are you able to drink the chalice that I am to drink?”  -Matthew 20:22

 


As I settled into my new home at the Mount last semester, many anxious thoughts ran through my mind. When I was deciding where to attend college, I felt drawn to the Mount through prayer and knew that God wanted me here. However, in response to my anxious thoughts, the first weeks soon became a little bit like a discernment period for me to delve deeply into why God wanted me here, and it quickly turned into a spiritual journey for me to answer the question of, “how far will I go for Christ?” I honestly felt like I was barely able to follow Him 45 minutes away from my Maryland home, let alone to become a great missionary or witness for Him. Thankfully, a priest’s homily early in the semester powerfully reminded me of the gravity of my (and all Christians’) mission with the words, “Martyrdom is an option.” Though I still missed my family often, I soon grew to desire zeal and love for Christ more than the comfort of being at home. It made the chalice easier to drink, a “lighter yoke” to carry.

 

In the scriptures today, Jesus reminds us that we need to be ready for great sacrifice, the “chalice” that He is to drink. In fact, we should be willing to give up everything for Him. Both the Psalmist and Jeremiah are examples of this radical, unconditional love we must strive to imitate. They plead to the Lord even after writing that those around them are attempting to torture and provoke them, even to the point of threatening their lives. Can we also trust in the Lord’s plan for our lives even when we don’t feel that our faith gives us physical comfort or worldly authority? This Lent, right at this moment, is the perfect time to refocus on our priorities as Christians and decide whether or not we are willing to sacrifice everything for Him. How far will you go for Him?

 

Jesus, help me to give everything to You. It is so hard to stay close to You sometimes but with Your grace, I want to be all in for You. Please help me to be open to Your grace and willing to “drink the chalice” that You drank when You died for me. Amen.

 

Jer 18:18-20       Ps 31:5-6, 14, 15-16          Mt  20:17-28

SECOND WEEK OF LENT
Tuesday, March 14
Faith Berard                                                                                                                         
Class of 2017

 

 “The greatest among you must be your servant.  Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” -Matthew 23: 11-12

 

Jesus calls for us to strive for holiness in our daily lives, aiming to become more like Him in all we think, do, and say. In today’s Gospel, He encourages us to grow in the virtue of humility. In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis described humility as “not thinking less of yourself, but rather thinking of yourself less.” We should strive to grow in real Christ-like humility. This humility requires the self-knowledge to realize that our trust must rest in God instead of ourselves, and to work always to be serving God and others before our own interests. Jesus confirms in the Gospel that when we aim to humble ourselves, we will be exalted. Perhaps this exaltation will not come in our earthly life, but that is fine! We were not made for this life, but for the next. As St. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:1, “we were made for heaven.” Saint Therese of Lisieux is credited with the saying, “The world is thy ship, not thy home.” We are here to live in a way that will take us home, to heaven. Jesus tells us how to do that today: to be like Jesus, a humble servant.

 

Heavenly Father, thank You for the example of Jesus to model my life after. Help me to take advantage  of every opportunity to grow in humble service to You and others, so that Your will for my life may unite with my will. Grant me the grace to live my life in a way that brings me to my eternal home with You. Saint Therese of Lisieux, pray for us. Saint Josemaria Escriva, pray for us. Amen.

 

Is 1:10, 16-20      Ps 50:8-9, 16bc-17, 21, 23       Mt 23:1-12

SECOND WEEK OF LENT
Monday, March 13
Veronica Messier                                                                                                                
Class of 2017

 

Working for Love

 

“For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” - Luke 6:38

 

In the present day, it would be easy for the general public to equate Jesus’ words in the Gospel today with karma: “What goes around comes around.” With this view, it behooves the individual to do good to his neighbor so that his neighbor will do good unto him. This is not the entire message of Christ in our Gospel today. While being good and generous and merciful toward people on earth does increase the likelihood that those people will do good unto you, it does not guarantee that you will receive goodness from them. The purpose for our good deeds cannot be to earn blessings from others. The Gospel does not say, "Be merciful and others will be merciful to you. Give gifts and the world will lavish gifts upon you. Do good, and you will live a happy earthly life without any problems.” No, the Gospel points toward the eternal happiness for which we need to live. God promises that He will be the one to repay us for our good works and deeds. Eternal union with Him is more rewarding than any temporal blessing could promise. May all of us live, love, and work for the good of one another to glorify the Father, now and forever.

 

God, thank You for showing us the importance of good works toward our neighbors. Please help us to remember that we will be judged by You, just as we have been judging one another. Give us the strength we need to be compassionate toward our neighbors so that we can move closer to the eternal union that You long for us to experience with You in heaven. Amen.

 

Dn 9:4b-10        Ps 79:8, 9, 11, 13        Lk 6: 36-38

SECOND WEEK OF LENT
Sunday, March 12                                                                      
Ju “Silvano” Hyeon Jeong
Sem. Class of 2018

 

To Follow God’s Will as Mount Students

 

“The Lord said to Abram: Go forth from your land, your relatives, and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” -Genesis 12:1-2

 

As students of the Mount, our first duty is to study. It is our obligation to nourish ourselves intellectually for the future. We all have our own reasons for studying here. For example, I, as a seminarian, am studying for the priesthood, which is my goal and dream. Whatever we work on academically, we have our own goals and, dreams whether we are aware of them or not. If we are not, maybe it is time to think deeply about our dreams and goals. “What do I really want to do in the future? Why is this my goal? Is it what I really desire, or is it what people around me expect me to do?”

 

Abraham was called by God to leave his country, people, and even his father’s household, which means he was asked to leave everything behind and move toward where God was leading. He answered “yes” to God and followed His direction.  Jesus revealed His identity as the Son of God to His disciples in the Transfiguration. His divinity enabled Him to talk to Moses and Elijah as a glorious figure beyond this world. Jesus knew He had to suffer and die to wash away our sins as God the Father desired. Jesus humbled Himself and was obedient to God’s will. He went through shameful and dreadful suffering and death on the cross to wash away our sins, and to fulfill God the Father’s will.

 

Now, as we think about our goals and dreams again, we should ask ourselves if they are really what Our Father wants us to do. We, as    baptized Catholics and Christians, all have an inner desire to follow    Jesus. Now is the time to see if our goals and dreams are aligned with our desire to follow Jesus. Is where we are going and what we are doing aligned with the sacrifice of Jesus? We need to ask God to give us the grace to follow His will.

 

Obviously following God’s will may be challenging and difficult. It may demand self-sacrifice and self-denial. We know, however, that through obedience to God we can receive abundant grace and blessings from God, because obedience is the best way that we can fulfill our earthly journey toward heaven.

 

Lord Jesus, give us strength to follow Your will as You did in accordance with the Father. Amen.

 

Gn 12:1-4a   Ps 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22   2 Tm 1:8b-10   Mt 17:1-9

FIRST WEEK OF LENT
Saturday, March 11
Tom Baker
Class of 2018

 

The Hardest Command

 

 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  -Matthew 5:44

 

 In today’s Gospel, we hear the famous passage from Jesus commanding us to, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” This passage is recited over and over by Christians worldwide. But how is it applied in our day-to-day interactions with one another? Often, we like to think that this command to love an enemy can just mean saying “hello,” and smiling at someone we don’t particularly like when we pass them in the hallway. Perhaps when we start thinking about our enemy, we begrudgingly say “God, please bless them.” While these are all good practices, Christ is calling us to something deeper and more challenging.

 

When Jesus commands us to love our enemies, He is not only commanding us to react to our enemy but to actively love our enemy. Love is not a passive sentiment or a reactionary response to the actions of another. To love someone means to actively seek out the good in the other. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Love means sacrificing one’s desires and possessions to further the good of the other. When Jesus tells us to love someone, He is not saying we should love them for a small moment in time, but rather at all times. In every circumstance, we should be actively seeking how we can best love the other, and make the necessary sacrifices to do so. So when Jesus says, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” He is, in effect, saying, “actively seek to make sacrifices and acts of love at all times without hesitation to those who hate you and despise you.” It is this difficult responsibility that makes this command from Jesus so challenging, yet also so rewarding.

 

Lord Jesus, help me to love as You love; to embrace everyone as my brother and sister, as Your child. Amen.

 

Dt 26:16-19        Ps 119:1-2, 4-5, 7-8          Mt 5:43-48

FIRST WEEK OF LENT
Friday, March 10
Erica Mullikin
Class of 2017

 

I Give Myself to You Lord

 

“But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement.” -Matthew 5:22

 

I had a friend in high school who was contemplating a decision. I disagreed with her on the choice that she was going to make. In the end, she made her choice and ended up being hurt. I was so angry with her that I said exactly what I was thinking about her choice. Immediately after I had said it, I regretted the words that had come out of my mouth. She was hurting and already knew that she had made a wrong choice, but my anger made me selfish.  All I wanted to do was prove that I had been right all along. My emotions blinded me to the friend who just needed someone to be there for her.

 

In this passage, God is reminding us that we must not speak sharply when we are angry or upset at someone we love. When we are in this state, we say hurtful words that we do not mean, and we have no way of taking such words back. When our emotions become too much to handle, and life overwhelms us, God wants us to remember Him. God wants us to offer it up to Him. It is only through love and compassion that we can rectify the relationships that we break. It is through the humbling process of saying, “I am sorry,” and of opening ourselves up to the other person that we are able to be right with our neighbor, and, in turn, be right with the Lord.

 

Lord, please help me to know that when my emotions are too much, I will give them to You, I will trust in Your way and know that it is good. Amen.

 

Ez 18:21-28        Ps 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-7a, 7bc-8          Mt 5:20-26

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