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Daily Reflections for Lent

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

FIRST WEEK OF LENT
Thursday, March 9
Anna Filosa
Class of 2017

Teamwork Makes God’s Dream Work

 

“Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove  the splinter from your brother’s eye.” -Matthew 7:5

 

A typical afternoon at my student teaching internship last semester when I was walking down the hall with two third-grade boys: Ryan takes off in a sprint down the hall.
Me: “Woah, Ryan, walking feet in the hall, please.”
Timmy: “Ms. Filosa, Ryan shouldn’t get a sticker on his chart today because he was running and that’s being bad!”
Me: “How about instead of worrying about what Ryan is doing wrong, you worry about what you can do right to earn stickers for your chart?”
Timmy: “But Ms. Filosa it’s not fair
 . . .” (In the process of ratting Ryan out, Timmy doesn’t realize that he’s been picking up his pace and proceeds to wipe out down half a flight of stairs.)
 

Aside from his pride being a little wounded, after a hug and a quick conversation about tattling, Timmy was totally fine. Recently, however, I’ve realized I feel a lot like Timmy sometimes. I’ve had so many times when it seems like all I can see are the ways someone else is screwing up and, the next thing I know, I fall flat on my face. I realize that I’ve been making the same mistakes, kind of like how Timmy, in his quest for hallway justice, didn’t realize that he was breaking the same rule as Ryan. Now, I’m all for hallway justice. I had a talk with the boys that day about how we could make the hallway a better place if they helped each other out, and encouraged one another to follow the rules. I kind of think that God is asking the same of us. When it comes to your soul, God is not asking you to grow in comparison to anyone else. He’s asking you to grow in comparison to you. Work on your own soul this Lent. Find those ways you know you need to change, and help others to do the same. We could make our school, and our world, a better place if we support and encourage one another in doing good.  

 

Dear God, thank You for the gift of community. Please help us to recognize the goodness in one another rather than the shortcomings. Help us to encourage one another in doing Your will.  Help us to share in Your love and mercy. Amen.

 

Est C:12, 14-16, 23-25           Ps 138:1-2ab, 2cde-3, 7c-8                   Mt 7:7-12

FIRST WEEK OF LENT
Wednesday, March 8
Gina Hackett
Class of 2018

Christ Is the Sign, and We Are Firmly Rooted

“Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.”  -Luke 11:30


A great priest once said in a homily, “If Christ is the sign and the rock in our lives, then we are firmly rooted and can do so much more, be so much more.” Jesus, the Son of Man, is the sign of God and His infinite love for each and every one of us. Jesus must be our rock, in whom we are rooted. In Him, our sign, we can see and come to know God’s love.
 

How can we be firmly rooted in Christ? First, we must spend time with Him by praying and simply talking to Him. God wants to hear all about your day from you, even though He already knows what’s on your mind and in your heart. Build your relationship with Him! Second, we should come to know Him. We can do this by reading Scripture and going to Mass. Third, we need to be clean of heart. Just as the Ninevites repented, we are called to do the same. We have been given the amazing privilege to receive God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. While it may be scary and tough to be vulnerable, know that the priest, and God, finds great joy in seeing someone be strong enough in admitting they aren’t perfect. There’s no better feeling than the post-confession feeling!


We are called to be firmly rooted in Christ, who is our sign. We are called to be that sign for others, for those who do not yet know Him. Be the sign for others, as Jonah was the sign for the Ninevites. Be firmly rooted in Christ, and you will be a sign to those who have not yet come to know Him.
 

Jesus, help me to be firmly rooted in You. Give me the grace to be a sign of Your love  for others, as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, and as You are a sign to us. Amen.

 

Jon 3:1-10            Ps 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19                    Lk 11:29-32

FIRST WEEK OF LENT
Tuesday, March 7
Sr. Mary Kate Birge
Professor of Theology

 

Fertile with Forgiveness

 

“Yet just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats.” -Isaiah 55:10

 

In the first reading for today, we hear how the rain and the snow that water the earth and renew all life on it is like God’s Word. God’s Word is rich and nourishing for all creation, especially for humanity, because this Word is not empty of power or purpose. The end, or purpose, of God’s Word is simple and, at the same time, very difficult to achieve. The purpose for God’s sending the Word is to bring humanity back into relationship with God because this is what pleases God. God desires to be in relationship with human beings. God wants to know us human beings and wants us human beings to know God. To know at the deepest level of our psyches how much God desires to be with us, not for anything we have done or will do, but for the simple pleasure of becoming friends with us, is to know joy. That joy leads us to want to live lives modeled on the Incarnate Word, Jesus, and so it draws us into friendship with Him and into a way of life where we forgive others because we have already been forgiven so much.  

 

God of rain and snow, of fields and hills, send Your Word to me. Let me not rebuff Your offering of friendship, but grant me the grace to cooperate with Your Word. Make me fertile with forgiveness this Spring as I prepare to experience again the Great Mystery of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection. Help me want to forgive others because You have already forgiven me so much. Amen.

 

Is 55: 10-11 Ps 34:4-5, 6-7, 16-17, 18-19 Mt 6:7-15

FIRST WEEK OF LENT
Monday, March 6
Eileen Peregoy
Admin Asst. - Seminary

 

What You Have Received, Freely Give!

 

“The king will say to those on His right: “Come, you who are blessed by My Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” -Matthew 25: 34

 

Consider that God, Who  is love itself, had you and me in His mind’s eye from all eternity. Though He did not need us to be complete in Himself, out of love He created us to share in His divine life and eventually live with Him forever in heaven.

 

Each of us has been given a specific purpose in life, a task to be fulfilled for the glory of God and the good of our neighbor. To help us along life’s journey, God endowed us with various gifts and talents, among which is the gift (and challenge) of free will, to choose between good and evil, between a life of giving or of selfish indifference. Our talents are to be shared with others to assist them on the road to heaven.

 

In the person of His Son, God sent us the perfect example of how to love the poor and the lonely, the sick and the dying , those who are hungry, not only for food but for love, a kind word, a helping hand. Do we see and honor the face of Christ in each of them, or do we turn away and go about our daily lives unconcerned about the plight of others? Do we try to imitate the love and mercy with which Christ poured out His life for us? He considers all that we do to others, whether good or bad, directly affects our relationship with God. Let us pass on to our neighbor the precious gifts we have received from God, Who  loved us from the beginning.

 

During this holy season, and throughout our lives, let us forget ourselves and strive to serve Christ in His people, thus making other peoples lives brighter and more hopeful. Then, when we come before the Lord on judgment day, He will say to us, “well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your Lord.”

 

Lord Jesus, as we begin this season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, let us be Your hands and feet and hearts to those who suffer in any way.  Thank You for dying on the cross for us and teaching us how to love without counting the cost. Amen.

 

Lv 19:1-2, 11-18 Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 15 Mt 25:31-46

FIRST WEEK OF LENT
Sunday, March 5
Michael Hoover
Associate Director, iLEAD

 

Follow His Lead

 

“Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and uphold me with Thy free Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto Thee.” (Ps 51: 12-13) “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”  -Romans 5: 19

 

Because of our parents, from first  to our own, sinned, we, too, sin. A person who does wrong and has followers, e.g. children, should expect those followers to commit similar wrongdoings. However, a  person who leads by a good example and understands the value in doing so will most likely have followers who do the same.

 

God became man and taught us by example that temptations (Matthew 4) and suffering are part of our human condition. Jesus also exemplified and taught that an equally viable part of being human  is our capacity to be confident in our faith, to love and to perform acts of goodness. Christ asked us through the example of His apostles to follow His lead. And, by that example, He models for us what good leaders embody.

 

Leaders admit to being human and frail, sometimes even broken, then strive to be their personal best. They, in turn, seek opportunities to lift others up so they too may become their personal best selves.

 

Through leading by a good example, we gather followers by our positive influence to grow goodness in the world, even knowing we may again falter, make mistakes, and even lead others astray. But, in admitting to our mistakes and wrongdoings, apologizing to those wronged (including to God Himself), and then striving and committing  to do and be better, we come into the grace of goodness, confident to lead ourselves and others to be and do our best.

 

Lord, please help me be ever mindful of my words and actions, that I may follow in Your steps and lead others along Your Way of righteousness and love. Amen.

 

Gn 2:7-9; 3: 1-7   Ps 51: 3-6, 12-13, 17  Rom 5: 12-19 or 5: 12, 17-19  Mt 4:1-11

SATURDAY AFTER ASH WEDNESDAY
Saturday, March 4
Anne O’Neill
Class of 2017

 

Keeping the Sabbath Holy

 

“If you refrain from trampling the Sabbath, from following your own pursuits on my holy day; If you call the Sabbath a delight, the LORD’s holy day glorious; If you glorify it by not following your ways, seeking your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs— Then you shall delight in the LORD.” - Isaiah 58:13-14

 

God commanded us to keep holy the Sabbath. What does this mean? We are not Israelites who first received this message; we are not Jews whose Sabbath is Saturday. What does it mean for a Catholic to keep the Sabbath holy? Today the command is generally interpreted as a call to go to Mass on Sundays for Catholics. However, the command is more complex. The call to attend Mass on all Sundays and holy days of   obligation can be found in the precepts of the Church, which is not the entirety of the commandment. Isaiah gives a reminder that the Sabbath is not just about Mass. Mass did not exist until long after the commandment was given. The Sabbath is an entire day for God, not an hour and some change. We are called to glorify the Sabbath by focusing on God and not on our own desires. As citizens in the twenty-first century, what we do does not always allow us to spend the entire day devoted solely to God. We have athletic events, school events, work events. These things just pile on, but this does not excuse us trampling on the Sabbath. While we may be busy with other things, we should still remember that it is the Lord’s Day. We want to order our lives for God through our words and actions; we do this by keeping holy the Sabbath. Holy means that we should be aware that it is a day to glorify the Lord at all times, and not just during Mass. Through this, we shall delight in the Lord our God.

 

Dear God, thank You so much for the gift of the Sabbath. In this Lenten season, please let us remember that the Sabbath is a day for glorifying You and not just our own selfish desires. Please help us to keep this knowledge before us for the rest of our lives. Amen.

 

Is 58: 9b-14        Ps 86: 1-2. 3-4. 5-6          Lk 5: 27-32

FRIDAY AFTER ASH WEDNESDAY
Friday, March 3
Paul A Miller
Class of 2017

 

Soon They’ll Be Ready

 

“The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”  -Matthew 9:15

 

There is a philosophical axiom that goes something like this: “Things are received according to the mode of the receiver.” Think of it this way, if you put the wrong fuel in your vehicle, at best your vehicle won’t run, at worst, your engine catches fire!

 

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus explains to John’s disciples that His time with them is to be a time of celebration, celebrating the proclamation of the Kingdom of God! But it is also a time of preparation. Jesus’ disciples do not yet understand what the Kingdom of God fully means, or what it will ultimately cost. In the verses that follow, Jesus explains that new wine must be poured into new wine skins. He is preparing His disciples to understand the full implications of the Kingdom of God, and preparing them to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the good news. Without this preparation, they will not have the effective capacity to receive that which God will pour into them.

 

As we journey through Lent, let us keep in mind that we are in a season of preparation. Let us pray for our own conversions and the conversions of all, so that we may be disposed to receive the fullness of life that flows from the power of Christ’s Resurrection at Easter.

 

Almighty, ever- living , and merciful Father, as we anticipate the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, prepare us for this season of Lent, that we may be ready to receive and to live the power of His Resurrection, in love and mercy toward others, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Is 58:1-9a              Ps 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 18-19             Mt 9:14-15

 


 

THURSDAY AFTER ASH WEDNESDAY
Thursday, March 2
Justin Collins
Class of 2018
President of Campus Ministry

 

 Season of Surrender                                             

 

“If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I enjoin on you today, loving Him, and walking in His ways, and keeping His commandments, statues, and decrees, you will live and grow numerous and the Lord, your God, will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy.”  -Deuteronomy 30: 15-16

 

Surrender. It began with the words we heard yesterday, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”

 

One day after Ash Wednesday, the start of another reflective season of Lent, we are reminded every year of the importance of this time. It is time to open ourselves up, turning to the Lord, asking for forgiveness, as well as seeking the graces needed for ourselves or for those who are most in need.

 

Surrender. Will you surrender this Lent? Year after year the Lenten message is to turn to God, but is this the time? Is this the year you fully open your heart to the Lord? Surrender. In the book of Deuteronomy  Moses explains, if you keep the Lords commandments and follow Him, we will be blessed.

 

Christ, in His total surrender on the cross, is calling us to surrender ourselves this Lent.  Surrender, not in despair, but in the love and hope we are promised, and we must be ready to receive.

 

My brothers and sisters, may we, on this second day of Lent, find peace in the hope and love of God, trusting Him and opening ourselves up to surrender. For life with Christ is a wonderful adventure. Amen.

 

Dt 30: 15-20       Ps 1: 1-2. 3. 4 and 6        Lk 9: 22-25

 

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