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Daily Reflections for Lent

Rebekah Hardy
Class of 2018

Believing Is Seeing

“But you have never heard His voice nor seen His form, and you do not have His word remaining in you, because you do not believe in the One whom He has sent. You search the scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them: even they testify on My behalf.” John 5:31

In the Gospel reading today, Jesus is calling out the people for their blindness. They are too blinded by their presuppositions of the way that God should be making Himself known that they do not even notice He is walking among them. How often do we look for God in holy places where He is “supposed” to be and forget to look for Him within our hearts and in the people whom He has placed in our lives? Jesus is challenging us to really, deeply believe in Him. In order to do this, we need to know Him. If we know Jesus, we also know of His love and care for us and for every other individual in the world. Knowing and loving Jesus leads us to see Him firstly as he is present through the Eucharist and the scriptures at Mass. We also see Him as He is present in the hearts of others where He is waiting for us to discover Him. Let us always seek Jesus in the people and situations around us so that we may not be too blinded by our own ideas in seeing Him.

Lord, please help us to know You more perfectly so that our eyes may be opened to
love You in all of the ways that You make Yourself present to us in our daily lives. Amen.

Ex 32:7-14 Ps 106:19-20, 21-22, 23 Jn 5:31-47
Andrea Montanti
Class of 2018

Lean On Him When You’re Not Strong

“The LORD supports all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.” Psalm 145:14

The first reading from today is about the liberation and restoration of Zion. Liberation can be defined as setting someone or something free from imprisonment and restoration can be defined as the act of returning something to its former condition. It is important to know that this liberation and restoration that Isaiah is referring to is not just in regards to Zion, but about each and every one of us. There is no doubt that we each have experienced times when we have felt alone. It is so easy to feel forgotten, unloved, and hopeless. We must remember that the Lord our God will never ever forget us. He yearns to bring us out of our darkness and restore us to life in Him. One of the verses that particularly struck me is from Psalm 145:14, “The LORD supports all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.” We need the support of God; we cannot do anything on our own. Oftentimes it may feel like we need to bear our burdens on our own, but this is not the case. God wants to be with us all of the time, but He especially wants to be there when we are at our weakest point. It is in our weakness that God’s strength is made all the more apparent. Jesus Himself in today’s Gospel says, “I cannot do anything on my own; I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the One who sent me.” Seek to do the will of God by leaning on Him for support. Let Him in and He will never leave your side.

Jesus, help us to realize that we need You. Help us to constantly rely on Your endless support and unfailing love, for with You we are everything and alone we are nothing. May we continue to actively seek Your will through the intercession of Your Blessed Mother. Amen.

Is 49:8-15 Ps 145: 8-9, 13cd-14, 17-18; Jn 5:17-30
DeAna Saint-Fort
Class of 2019

Steps To The Eternal Gate

“God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress. Therefore we fear not, though the earth be shaken and mountains plunge into the depths of the sea.” Psalm 46: 2-3, 5-6

In the Gospel today, Jesus reminds us that even in our darkest times, he will always cleanse us from all our sins, if we truly ask of it. Which brings me to ask the ultimate question, what can keep us from the presence of God? A lot of the times I think of the obvious, like being impatient or doing things that we know are wrong. When we read further into the gospel, we find that Jesus’ dramatic cleansing of the temple was seen by His disciples as a prophetic sign of God’s work which was meant to purify and restore the true worship and holiness that lies among each and every one of us. In other words, the temple, which was described in the reading, is seen as the dwelling place of God among His children. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, He has reconciled us to God and made us adopted sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, and He fills us with His Holy Spirit and makes us living temples of God. Do you recognize the indwelling presence of God within you through the gift and working of His Holy Spirit? The Lord Jesus wants to renew our minds and to purify our hearts most especially in the sacrament of reconciliation, so that we may offer God perfect worship and so that we may enjoy His presence both now and forever. During this time in Lent, ask the Lord Jesus to fill you with a holy desire and burning zeal for His holiness and glory to grow in you and transform the way you think, act, and live as a son or daughter of God.

Lord Jesus Christ, open wide the door of your Father’s house so that we may enter confidently in worship of Your Spirit and Truth. Help me, I beg, to draw near to Your throne of mercy with gratitude and joy. Amen.

Ez 47:1-9, 12 Ps 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9 Jn 5:1-16
Angela Marinelli
Class of 2017
The Armor Of Trust As The Foundation Of Our Joy

“Instead, shout for joy and be glad forever in what I am creating. Indeed, I am creating Jerusalem to be a joy and its people to be a delight.” Isaiah 65:18

“The man believed what Jesus said to him and left.” John 4:50

An immense joy fills our hearts when we can see and feel the ways in which God is working in our lives. These “God-incidences” are simply heartwarming and beautiful, right? Everybody’s heart is all warm and fuzzy and we just cannot contain how great it is to be Catholic! But how do we react when we are no longer receiving these consolations in prayer and through God’s holy Church? Is that joy diminished? Are we only joyful when we feel God’s presence? The foundation of our joy should not be a feeling. Our joy that Isaiah spoke of in the first reading for today, needs to be grounded in trust. Feelings are fleeting. Even the feeling of God’s love is fleeting. Many saints have spoken of these “dark nights of the soul” in which they lacked any or all of God’s consolations. Yet, it was infinitely more than possible for them to remain joyful when they were overwhelmed with sorrow. Why? They trusted Christ. The man in today’s Gospel at the time of asking Christ to heal his son, probably did not feel like Jesus was fulfilling His promise to him, but he still trusted His word. Looking at the situation: the man asked Jesus to heal his son. Jesus was miles away from this man’s son, and simply said “You may go; your son will live.” Instead of speculating at the lack of human logic of how Jesus could heal his physically ailed son who was also physically nowhere near Jesus at the time, yet the man believed. This man had no “signs and wonders” as evidence of Christ’s love for him or his son. At the time, he did not see or have the knowledge that his son was healed. Even before he discovered Christ fulfilled His promise, the man trusted Jesus instead of questioning His credibility. When we place our trust in the most truthful person who ever lived, we have a firm knowledge that He will fulfill His promises to us. Trust in Christ will keep us joyful through desolation and be the armor protecting us against despair.

Dear Jesus, with Mother Teresa’s intercession, fill our hearts with the joy of Your Love in the dark nights of our soul. Let us trust in You and be our armor against despair. Amen.

Is 65:17-21 Ps 30:2 and 4, 5-6, 11-12a and 13b Jn 4:43-54
Dr. Sean Lewis
Professor of English

All That We Have Is A Gift

“But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.” Luke 15:32

“The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason” (T.S. Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral)

Today’s readings focus on forgiveness, and so much has been written on the parable of the Prodigal Son that one is tempted simply to let Jesus’ words speak for themselves. In this reflection, however, I would like us to turn our attention to the one character in these readings who does not ask for forgiveness: the elder son in the parable. It is natural for us to identify with the repentant son, but identifying with the elder son is also a fruitful exercise. For those of us striving to live the Christian life, it can be all too easy to fall into the attitude of the elder son: here I am, praying regularly, involved with the Church, routinely receiving the sacraments. How much better am I than those lax believers who do not practice the faith! As with most falsehoods, there is an element of truth in this attitude: God has called us to lives of conversion. He has “made us new creations” and “reconciled us to himself through Christ” (2 Cor 5:17), and we are called to live the Christian life without compromise. At the same time, if our religious practices lead us to treat those weaker in faith with the kind of scorn show by the elder brother, we must put aside these practices. As we hear throughout today’s readings, God is in control: “Today I have removed the reproach of Egypt from you” (Jos 5:9); “When the poor one called out, the LORD heard, and from all his distress he saved him” (Ps 34:6); “all this is from God” (2 Cor 5:18). The error of the elder brother was thinking that his holiness was solely a matter of his own actions, when, in reality, all of his virtues were ultimately gifts from God. As we continue our Lenten practice this week, let us ask God for the grace of humility, realizing more fully that we are the beneficiaries of His abundant mercies.
O Lord, make us truly grateful for all of the gifts You have given us, particularly those gifts we take for granted. Draw all of Your children to Yourself, Lord. Even those
whom we deem the least deserving of Your mercy, so we all may feast with You forever in Heaven. Amen

Jos 5:9a, 10-12, or 1 Sm 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, or Ps 23: 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6 2 Cor 5:17-21, Eph 5:8-14 Lk 15:1-3, 11-32, or Jn 9:1-41
Paul Miller
Class of 2016

Sacrifice Of The Heart

“My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a contrite, humble heart, O God, You will not scorn.” Psalm 51:19

What is it about a gift from a loved one that warms the heart? For children, it is usually the gift itself, something they’ve been waiting to receive. As we mature, the object of affection might change, but the desire remains: we are waiting to receive.

In today’s Scripture readings, we hear once again what it is God is waiting to receive from us during this Lenten season. Our acts of penance and our gift of alms during Lent are not meant as scripted religious requirements, but rather, each act is an occasion by which we can offer our whole hearts humbly to God. This gift of sacrifice can be a real struggle, and we need God’s grace. We ought to pray that the Holy Spirit give us the grace to offer authentic hearts of love to God. When offering our hearts, we must recognize we are dependent upon God, that He gives us His grace. We should in return offer genuine, humble, and contrite hearts back to Him, in love. God is waiting to receive the gift He desires from us, the sacrifice of our whole heart, true and complete.

Lord Jesus, we offer to You today our whole heart in love and adoration. Help us to be a living sacrifice of love to You every day. Amen.

Hos 6:1-6 Ps 51:3-4, 18-19, 20-21ab Lk 18:9-14
Katlyn Freddino
Class of 2016

Who, Me?

“The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’” Mark 12:31

In today’s gospel, Jesus reiterates the two most important command-ments: to love God above all, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Growing up, the second great commandment was taught to me by many people: my parents, teachers, priest, and family members. But it wasn’t until recently that I really heard what Jesus was saying.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” It seems simple: love your neighbor, be good to them, etc. But do you really love your neighbor as yourself? I know I fail often. I tend to compare myself with my neighbors and put them on a pedestal. I see their beauty, their talents, and their goodness. And then there’s me… broken, clumsy, and not good enough.

When Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves, he’s not only telling us to love others, but to love ourselves, too. As humans, it’s hard to love perfectly. Our love is disproportionate and sometimes we get frustrated with ourselves because of this fact. But Jesus… He is God, and He is perfect, beautiful Love. When you look at yourself in the mirror, look through the lens of Christ. Everything that you criticize about yourself, Jesus sees, and He delights in you despite what you perceive. Will you too, delight in your beauty and worth despite your flaws?

Lord Jesus, You saw our imperfections as You were dying on the cross, and You deemed us worthy of Your love and suffering. Help us to see ourselves and our neighbor as You see us: beloved. Amen.

Hos 14:2-10 Ps 81:6c-8a, 8bc-9, 10-11ab, 14 and 17 Mk 12:28-34
Mike Repovz
Varsity Catholic FOCUS Missionary

Come To Me . . .
“Every Kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste.” Luke 11:17

As we continue our journey through Lent, it is easy to get lost in the day to day monotony, especially in the third week where the beginning zeal has worn thin, and the finish line seems so far away. It is in times like these, and at any time, where it is much to our benefit to reassess what we are doing and why we are doing it. So that we may be thrilled and excited (“as all get out”) to continue the mission with just as much (if not more) zeal and determination as when we began. “Live with the end in mind,” or “begin with the end in mind,” I am sure we have all heard this before. The end we are striving for is complete unity, a total “fusion,” as St. Therese of Lisieux would say, with Jesus Christ.

Make no mistake, the kingdom of our body and soul is under attack . . . every day! The general of Evil, Satan himself, prowls around the kingdom of our soul seeking to destroy every part of us. Not just to separate us completely from God, but to use us to separate those around us against such attacks, the only defense is to call on the name of Jesus Christ who has power to drive Satan and all evil spirits out. “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer” (Psalm 18:2). It is He whom we seek to entirely unite our soul. To come into a greater union with Christ is the reason for our Lenten sacrifice. When the sight of this most honorable, wise, noble, truth-filled, upstanding and selfless mission of uniting ourselves completely with Christ is lost, our kingdom, or soul, is laid waste. When our eyes are taken off of Christ and His call for us to be one with Him, as He and the Father are One, it is inevitable that we will fall into pride, despair, thoughts of our own importance or ego, or other forms of division. To always think about and to put into action what will give us life, and life to the utmost, is what will unite us to Christ to be our stronghold at every moment. May our daily sacrifices this Lent, be seen always in this light.

Our Father in Heaven, we beg You, through the intercession of Mary, our Mother, and through Jesus Christ, Your Son, that we may accept all that You give us, knowing it is exactly what we need to be united wholly to You and to give our lives as a sacrifice for You, as Your Son exemplified perfectly for us. For it is in this giving of our lives in imitation of Your Son, where our life will be found. Amen.

Jer 7:23-28 Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9 Lk 11:14-23
Katherine Lowe
Class of 2018

On Chaos And Christ

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” Matthew 5:17

In today’s readings, the central theme is about rules. Rules are put in place to help us in our journey towards salvation. I don’t know about you, but I have a love-hate relationship with rules. I like to think of myself as an organized person who appreciates order, yet I am resentful of rules that seem to tie me down and prevent me from doing exactly what I want to do exactly when I want to do it. There are often times where I would prefer a little chaos over sticking to the rules. But chaos and Heaven don’t go well with one another.

In the first reading today, Moses is prefacing the Ten Commandments to the Israelites, in which they are instructed to “observe in the land that you are about to enter and occupy” (Dt. 4:5). Like the Israelites, we have been given the earth as a wonderful, even if fallen, stepping stone to the gates of Paradise. We too have been charged with commandments to uphold, which on closer inspection can minimize the chaos and dysfunction in our bruised world. As positive as the social benefits of the Commandments are, the spiritual benefits are even more vital. Christ Himself stated that He “came not to abolish [the Commandments] but to fulfill” (Mt. 5:17). Instead of resenting the temporary restraint on our freedoms, I challenge myself and others this Lent to practice a little more humility. We should acknowledge that the Glory of God in Heaven is worth the effort to obey Him, and those things He asks specific to His Will for us during different stages in our lives. This Lent, let us prepare our hearts for the mystery of the Resurrection and the beautiful fulfill-ment of the law God has given us.

Lord, bless us with the strength to live by Your Rules and trust in Your infinite Wisdom behind them, even when our soul is weary, so that Your Love may be fulfilled in our life. Amen.

Dt 4:1, 5-9 Ps 147:12-13, 15-16, 19-20 Mt 5:17-19
Mike Herlihey
Class of 2016

Practice What You Preach

“His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’” Matthew 18:32-33

Disdain for hypocrisy is universal. Don’t you hate it when someone you know complains about someone backstabbing him or her and then that same person turns around backstabs someone else? “Practice what you preach.”

Today’s Gospel passage, the parable of the unforgiving servant, is a story of a hypocrite. The servant owes the master “a huge amount” or in other words 10,000 talents. A talent is an ancient unit of measurement of coinage. So the value of a talent varied depending on the kind of metal in which it was created. The point is it was a huge amount. The master of the servant forgives him of all that he owes. Our hearts are warmed by the kindness of the master. Then we read how the servant fails to do the same for a fellow servant who owes him a much smaller amount, only a hundred days wages. It is understandable to get angry over this parable because hypocrisy is so ugly.

We must look internally at ourselves and ask, are we hypocrites? How many times do we insult and sin against God and He forgives us? He gives us everything, and it hurts Him greatly to see us sin against Him. He has every reason to hold a grudge and not forgive us. Yet, He is merciful and forgiving. Are we hypocrites when we accept God’s forgiveness and yet fail to forgive others who sin against us? Our sin against God is “a huge amount” compared to the sin of others against us. We must learn to forgive unlimitedly just like God in His infinite mercy forgives us.

Help us God to forgive others, especially when it isn’t easy. Help us not blame others but to realize our own hypocrisy and learn to forgive others. Amen.

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