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Daily Reflections for Lent

FOURTH WEEK OF LENT
Thursday, March 30
Zachary Robinson
Sem. Class of 2021

 

Bad Trades

 

“They exchanged their glory for the image of a grass-eating bullock.”  -Psalm 106:20

 

Today’s first reading is just the first example among many of Israel’s idolatries after their freedom from Egypt. Seriously, read in the Old Testament about the worshiping of the golden calf. Moses has been up on Mount Sinai with God for forty days (cf. Ex 24:18), and the splitting of the Red Sea (cf. Ex 14:21-22), supernatural fire, smoke, and lightning (cf. Ex 19:16-19), and gratuitous manna, quail (cf. Ex 16:9-15), and water from a rock (cf. Ex 17:1-7) are all last month’s news. Apparently, the testimony of God’s works wasn’t powerful enough to convince them that God is faithful. Now they want to make their own god (cf. Ex 32:1 ), to swap the love of the Father for a shiny heifer. That, brothers and sisters in Christ, is a bad trade.

 

Appropriately, we aren’t so different. The golden calf was the cool thing of the month for the Israelites, and we have our own flashy idols to pay attention to rather than God: the next smart watch, pop stars with new singles, what shoes will be in style this year, the NFL draft. The problem with all of these trends is the same: they are all bad trades.

 

In fact, there’s only one good trade: Forsake the world, and make Jesus Christ the center of your life. Jesus is adamantly telling us in the Gospel that He is still performing works to testify to the Father’s love for us. “But you do not want to come to me to have life,” he says, reading our selfishness (Jn 5:40). Is this true in your heart? If you aren’t convinced that Jesus is the trade you’re looking for, try this challenge for one week: start looking for His works. I promise you’ll find them. God testifies to His love with His works.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, don’t let me exchange the glory of Your love for an idol that is a reflection of my forgetfulness.  Father, show me Your works, testify to Your love for me.  Amen.

 

Ex 32:7-14          Ps 106:19-20,21-22, 23                  Jn 5:31-47

FOURTH WEEK OF LENT                                                                                    Wednesday, March 29
Pille Snydstrup
Class of 2017

 

Have Faith in God Always

 

“The Lord is trustworthy in all His words, and loving in all His works.  The Lord supports all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.”  -Psalm 145:13-14

 

Throughout our lives, we may have gone through difficult times and lost our faith. We may have even given up at times, but we are reminded that God is always with us to help us get back on the right path.

 

The movie Soul Surfer demonstrates how, when we are knocked down, it can be challenging to get back up. The main character, Bethany Hamilton, went through a traumatic event in her life, losing her arm. She became very angry and did not understand how God could let something so devastating happen to her. She asked her youth group leader, “How can this be God’s plan for me?” She gave up things she liked doing before and lost her faith. It was very hard for her to accept this new reality, but she realized that something good must come out of this tragedy. One day Bethany believed that if she had faith, she could continue doing what she loved the most, surfing. Slowly, she was able to overcome this difficult time in her life by having faith and trusting God again.

 

I connected with this movie because there have been times in my life where I have lost faith, and it felt like I had no support at times. I had to remind myself that God was always with me and He would help me when I needed extra support.

 

                Lord, help us see that You are always present, especially during times that I most need You. Amen.

 

Is 49:8-15            Ps 145:8-9, 13cd-14, 17-18           Jn 5:17-30

FOURTH WEEK OF LENT
Tuesday, March 28
Matthew K. Minerd
Philosophy Adjunct (Frederick Campus)
 

Heal My Crippled Soul

 

“Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your pallet, and walk." - John 5:8

 

Human nature limps. Frailest among all intellectual beings, spiritual  at our root, yet needing the body for the full perfection of what we are,  it is not surprising that humans limp along. We limp for more profound reasons than this. We limp because we have had something supernatural torn from the very substance of our soul. Born into the state of original sin and forever in the darkness cast by the actual sins that we (and all, save Christ and Mary) have committed since the time of the Fall, we limp along in darkness like prodigal children incurvatus in se, curved in upon ourselves. Though our natures were certainly not undone by the Fall, we nonetheless are prodigal children and cripples; we still need to be healed. We are broken beggars.

 

We will never realize the profound riches of the waters of baptism if we do not realize our need for grace, at once gratia sanans and gratia elevans, grace that heals and grace that elevates.  Grace, the very indwelling of the Holy Trinity, is needed so that we may once again live the life for which we were created, the supernatural bliss of seeing God face-to-face, and  the self-sacrificing life of Divine Love in the midst of this world’s great tears and small joys. 

 

The Thomists of yore tell us that without grace, even our natural virtues are unstable and incapable of their full plenitude of activity. They can be true virtues, but, they limp along weakly.  To be what we are to be as humans, we must first live a Life that is Divine. One understands thus the true and full meaning of Isaiah’s vision: “And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit  every month because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.”

 

Like the cripple, I come before You, O Lord, and beseech You that, in Your generous mercy,
I may be granted the healing power of Your grace, not only that I may be healed of my sins but,
even more, that I may delight in Your intimate life,  both here and hereafter. Amen.

 

Ez 47:1-9, 12      Ps 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9                           Jn 5:1-16

FOURTH WEEK OF LENT
Monday, March 27
Vicente Garcia
Class of 2017

 

I believe In. . . What Now?

 

“Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.”  The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went his way.” -John 4:48-50

 

At every Sunday Mass, we Christians renew our faith by reciting the Nicene Creed. Have you ever caught yourself going through the motions? “I believe in one God . . . I believe in our Lord, Jesus Christ . . . I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church . . . ” I believe in . . . What now? What am I doing reciting all of these things, do I believe in them? What is believing? The Catechism teaches us that believing is an act of the intellect assenting to the divine truth by command of the will moved by God through grace (CCC 155). Such belief characterizes true faith, which gives and receives at the same time. One gives assent not only to divine truth but to receiving His grace to guide that person to a deeper understanding of divine truth, life in Him. Believing is what drives us to bring the truth, Jesus Christ, into the journey of our lives. Of course, there are many truths in life that ultimately point to the Truth, and we will not understand everything in our lifetime.

 

In the Gospel, Jesus said to the crowd, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe,” to which the official said, “Yes, but seriously, please save my son.” Then Jesus says,” Go; your son will live.” And the man did as Jesus said and returned home, believing in Jesus, but having no idea whether or not his son was healed. The passage reveals that at the same moment Jesus had said those words, the official’s son was healed. This demonstrates that the act of going and believing that Jesus will do what He says He will do is what allows miracles to happen, rather than withholding belief in Jesus until He performs a miracle that is clear and obvious.

 

Mother Mary, your “Yes” to receiving Jesus into yourself was the ultimate act of faith and brought salvation to God’s people. We pray humbly through your intercession that God might grant us the grace this day to say yes to Jesus in our lives as you did, and as the man in today’s Gospel. We pray as the father with the possessed son prayed, “I believe; help my unbelief.” Amen.

 

Is 65:17-21          Ps 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11-12a, 13b            Jn 4:43-54

FOURTH WEEK OF LENT                                                                                   
Sunday, March 26
Allison Ivcic   
Class of 2017

 

You Don’t Need To See To Believe

 

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, or You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” -Psalm 23:4

 

As a baby falling asleep in my mother’s arms, I would cry if she shut off the light. I needed to see her to feel her presence. In today’s world, it has become difficult to believe without seeing. If we have an immature, faith, we sometimes don't think that God is there when things aren't going our way.

 

Sheep learn to follow their master's voice to avoid danger. Over time they come to trust that he will lead them to food and keep them from their enemies. We need to learn how to discern the voice of the Lord from the voices of the world. This can only be done if, like the sheep, we learn to hear the voice of our true shepherd even though we cannot see Him, and to do this we need to establish a real relationship with Him. It is important to also turn our backs on the world’s superficial goods and follow Jesus so that we can come to know what is truly righteous and good. In the gospel today, the blind man only hears the voice of Jesus, yet he believes it is the Lord long before he sees Him. Jesus doesn't just heal the blind man; He brings him into the fold. The blind man comes to know Jesus as the Lord.

 

True faith is the belief in things not seen, but like the blind man, we can see evidence of God's hand in our lives if we spend time with Him at Mass, before the Blessed Sacrament, fasting, and going to Reconciliation. Like the blind man, we need to allow ourselves to be led out of darkness by following the voice of our true Good Shepherd. We can’t just believe; we need to embrace our faith and listen to the voice of the Shepherd and follow Him.

 

Lord, give me the strength to move out of this world of darkness and sin
and into the light of the presence of You, my Shepherd. Amen.

 

1 Sam 16:1b 6-7, 10-13a                  Ps 23:1-6              Eph 5:8-14         Jn 9:1-41

ANNUNCIATION OF OUR LORD
Saturday, March 25
Br. Matthew Mary Bartow, MFVA
Sem. Class of 2018      

  

Say ‘Yes’ to the Lord

 

“And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.’
And the angel departed from her.” -Luke 1:1:38

 

   This passage depicts the crucial, pivotal moment in salvation history when Mary fully and freely gives her assent, her fiat, to the will of God. This must be a tremendous challenge for Our Blessed Mother. The angel Gabriel appears to a humble teenage girl and delivers the astounding news that she is going to conceive and bear the Savior of the world. Even though the angel calls Her “full of grace,” she still must have a profound sense of unworthiness for this role of Mother of God, not to mention how difficult it would be to explain this to others, especially Joseph.  Despite all this, Mary shows that she trusts completely in the Lord and allows Him to accomplish His will through her. Mary’s “Yes” to the Lord is what opens the door to the salvation of the world.

 

   In giving her assent to the word of the angel, Mary serves as the pre-eminent exemplar of Christian discipleship. This blessed season of Lent is an excellent opportunity for us to follow the example of Mary more closely. On the one hand, Mary is the sinless one who is “full of grace” and so she is perfectly disposed to respond freely to God’s call. We, on the other hand, are prone to sin and so we constantly need God’s grace to leave behind our sinful inclinations and turn towards the Lord. During Lent, we strive to open ourselves to God’s will especially through the practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These three works of penance help us to detach from our vices, sins, and self-will so that we might more readily do God’s will. The more we open ourselves to the grace of God, the more we allow Christ to enter into this world and perform His saving work through us. Thus we become more like Mary by imitating her response at the Annunciation: “Let it be done to me, according to your word.”

 

Holy Mary, thank you for generously saying “Yes” to the Lord. Please help us, your children, to imitate your example so that Christ, your Son, may more  fully enter into this world. Amen.

 

Is 7:10-14, 8-10     Ps 40:7-8a, 8b-9, 10-11   Heb 10:4-10      Lk 1:26-38

 

THIRD WEEK OF LENT                                                                                           
Friday, March 24
Louis Lawrence                                                                                                                     
Class of 2018   

 

His Voice

 

“I am the Lord your God: hear My voice.” - Psalm 81: 9a, 11

 

The recurring theme of today’s scripture passages is the abundant blessings our Lord promises to us, His people when we take the time to listen to Him and follow His Word.

 

In the first reading, the Lord is calling the Israelites back to righteousness after failing to fulfill their covenant with God. The Israelites must repent, but afterward, the Lord will forgive them. He describes His forgiveness through metaphoric images of growth, prosperity, and fruitfulness in nature. The Lord concludes, saying that those who are prudent and just will recognize that such growth is only possible by listening to and following His teachings, but that those who are sinful may not do so.

 

The psalm selection continues the theme of describing the powerful blessings God bestows upon us. He relieves our burdens and rescues us in times of distress; He will feed us when hungry. But this is only possible if we take the time to listen carefully, recognize His voice, and obey His commands.

 

Mark’s Gospel passage, relaying a conversation between Jesus and a Scribe, clearly presents the most important way we can obey God: by following the commandments identified by Jesus Himself. The scribe asks what the most important commandment is, and Jesus responds that it is to love the one true Lord God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. And, that we must also love our neighbor as ourselves. The scribe repeats the commandment, thus signifying his understanding to Jesus, who then tells him that He is “not far from the Kingdom of God.”

 

 In each passage, the Israelites, God’s chosen people, are called upon to listen to the Word of God: “Return, Israel, to the Lord, your God” (Hos 14:2), “O Israel, will you not hear me?” “If only My people would hear me” (Ps 81:9, 14), “Hear, O Israel!” (Mk 12:29).

In today’s busy, chaotic world, it can be very difficult, sometimes, to   understand what it is God asks of us. It is crucial, however, that we make the time, throughout our lives, both in prayer and at Mass, to simply listen and hear God’s voice. For it is through Him that all is possible, and by following His Word, we will never be “far from the Kingdom of God.”

 

O Lord, my God, help me to embrace periods of silence with prayer so that I might be able to better hear Your voice, and follow Your word. Amen.

 

                                    Hos 14:2-10        Ps 81:6c-8a, 8bc-9, 10-11ab, 14, 17          Mk 12:28-34

THIRD WEEK OF LENT
Thursday, March 23
Veronica Fernandez
Class of 2017

 

Surrendering Our Hearts

 

“This rather is what I commanded them: Listen to My voice; then I will be your  God , and you shall be My people. Walk exactly in the way I command you,  so that you may prosper.” -Jeremiah 7:23

 

   How often are we left disappointed with the things of this world? Whether it is a rejection at a job or a loss of a close friendship, as human beings, we suffer when anything in our life goes off course. Rejection is often the hardest struggle to process because, as broken human beings, we struggle with the unknown. We do everything in our power to fulfill our innermost desires and plans, but at times we fail and have to come   to terms with the fact that we are not the ones in charge. It is through rejection; it is through inevitable heartbreak and life’s uncertainties that we come to realize that He is the One on Whom we must rely when our biggest and best life plans take a detour.

 

We must put ourselves at the cross and endure life’s uncertainties and misfortunes. As hard as it is, to gain peace, we must relinquish our control and be obedient to God, just as Jeremiah was, even when God feels very far away. God desires to be our God. I encourage you if you are having trouble letting go of having to be in control, to step back and accept the invitation from God to follow Him wholeheartedly. “Harden, not your hearts,” as Ps 95:8 reads, and take comfort in Him, for He knows us and is ever faithful to each and every one of us because we are His people.  Despite the “no’s” we may experience, or the suffering that may overtake us, we can take comfort that God’s plans for us are plans for our welfare and not for woe (Jer 29:11).

 

Lord, we bow down before You. We offer up to You all our struggles. Give us obedient hearts and minds, like Jeremiah, to follow Your Word and surrender our plans with a joyful and happy spirit. We bow down to You, Lord Jesus, we trust in You.  Amen.

 

Jer 7:23-28         Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9            Lk 11: 14-23

 

THIRD WEEK OF LENT
Wednesday, March 22
Kelly Smith
Class of 2017

 

Strengthen the Gates of Your Heart

 

“Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! For He strengthens the bars of your gates; He blesses your sons within you. He sends forth His command to the earth; His word runs swiftly.”  -Psalm 147: 12 - 15

 

In the reading today from Deuteronomy, we are asked, “For what great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the Lord, our God, is to us whenever we call upon him?” (Dt 4:7). Jesus tells us to observe the commandments carefully (Dt 4:6). This is our duty, our wisdom, and discernment in the midst of our everyday life (Dt 4:6). Jesus came to fill the earth full of God’s grace, and we are here on earth to fulfill God’s plan for us. The passage in Deuteronomy suggests that we must stay on guard and be careful not to forget to obey the commandments (Dt 4:8-9). God gave us instructions on how we can grow in relationship with Him and live an eternal life with Him. God gives us so much and asks so little of us. After all, He has given us everything, and even died for our sins, can we spare a few pleasures of our own? Especially pleasures that lead us astray from God?  He will help us. He is always present in us. 

 

The Psalm for today’s reflection reminds us to guard our hearts. This means that we need to strengthen the gates to our soul. Consider that your soul is behind a strong gate. Think of the walls of Jerusalem as God’s people. They are the ones who believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus. God wants to strengthen the gates and the wall of Jerusalem, which is our heart. We must collectively and individually seek and learn His statutes and laws, and secure them within the walls of our hearts so that we can be prepared for the battles of this world. Jesus is always with us and will always be a shining and guiding light in our life if we follow Him.

 

Lent can be a time of reflection for us to look at our own lives. How can we best serve God?  How can we help Him, just as He helped us? Can’t we just love our neighbor? There is already enough hate in the world, why add to it? At the end of Lent, will you be able to say that you conformed your life to Christ and grew in your relationship with Him?

 

Dear Lord, please continue to be a shining light in my life and secure Your statutes within the gate of my heart. Please watch over me in times of trial as I strive to lead by Your example and follow Your commandments. Amen.

 

Dt 4:1, 5-9          Ps 147:12-13, 15-16, 19-20            Mt 5:17-19

THIRD WEEK OF LENT
Tuesday, March 21
Esteban (Steven) Mallar
Sem. Class of 2022

 

Heal Our Indifference, Lord!

 

“Even now, says the Lord, return to Me with your whole heart; for I am gracious and merciful.” - Joel 2: 12-13

 

May we, in reading this reflection from the book I Will Think of Everything. You, Think Only of Loving Me, hear and respond wholeheartedly to the Voice of the Lord calling us back to His gracious and merciful heart. May we become conscious of our terrible indifference, break our chains of slavery and replace them with chains of love, chaining ourselves joyfully to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts.

 

“I remember very clearly that there was a real strong sense of not just the noise of the blasphemies being shouted directly at Jesus [on the cross], but also the deafening silence of so many people just following the crowd, indifferent, self-absorbed, distracted. So many people in all generations not focused on the meaning and the calling of Jesus' suffering and death on the cross, not being sorry for their sins that put Him there, and not being truly grateful and honored by the magnitude of His love for us in this great act of redemption. I sensed these blasphemies of indifference contributing IMMENSELY to His suffering of being alone and abandoned, and then on top of that to know that many of these   people might never respond to the grace of redemption He is offering to them. This indifference was excruciating to our Savior. My heart ached for Him as I felt His deep loneliness, rejected and tortured by His own creatures, by those whom He created out of love and for love. He was suffering so greatly to save the very creatures who offend Him. I tried to catch the eyes of Jesus as He looked across the crowd looking for love. It was as if He was crying out with His eyes from the very depths of His being, "Does anyone care? Is anyone grateful? Will you respond to the graces I obtain for you by My suffering and dying in your place?" Then I saw Mary, near the foot of the cross, in such pain as she witnessed the cruelty of all these horrible blasphemies, including the contemptible blasphemies of indifference, coming from the very people her Son was suffering and dying for, those whom He loved so much. I knew that Mary, too, in her great motherly love for us, longed for the salvation of all those people, just as her Son did.”  A Sister of Children of Mary. I  Will Think of Everything. You, Think Only of Loving Me. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016.

 

Jesus, Mary, I love You! Save souls!  Mother! Please pray for me that my heart may be moved to a deep love for Jesus! Jesus, change me! Amen.

 

Dn 3: 25. 34-43     Ps 25: 4-5ab. 6 and 7bc. 8, 9     Mt 18: 21-35

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