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Daily Reflections for Lent

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

Monday, March 20
Deacon René Pellessier
Sem. Class of 2017

 

A Man Who Was Not Afraid of Failure

 

“Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.’”  -Matthew 1:19-20

 

There is one question that every college student of this day and age must answer, and that is: What is God calling me to do with the life He has given me? This question can be extremely difficult for us to answer because the prospect of failure appears so high. Fear of failure drives us to think that we might pursue a career path that leaves us unhappy, a consecrated life that leaves us lonely, or a marriage that leaves us miserable. Such thoughts can freeze us with fear and anxiety, causing us to delay our decisions. But St. Joseph is there to show us that we need not fear failure because God is with us every step of the way.

 

When St. Joseph learned that Mary conceived a child through the Holy Spirit, he must have felt in his heart a deep and true sense of unworthiness to be the husband of Mary and the foster father of the Messiah. He initially made a decision to release Mary from her marital obligation. Joseph was a man of action. He was not one for freezing or delaying decisions. He discerned and then he acted. But in this case, he acted wrongly. He made the wrong decision by deciding to divorce Mary. But our loving God was not going to abandon him to suffer the consequences of his mistake. No, He had other plans for His servant.

 

Notice that when God addresses St. Joseph, He does not say “Joseph, you idiot!” Instead, He addresses Joseph as a son of David, the greatest king to rule the nation of Israel, reminding him of his royalty and affirming his fidelity. In this dream, God gently corrects the misjudgment of His faithful servant and guides him along the right path. This event can be a great consolation to all of us making big decisions in our lives. Whether it is a career-path, consecrated life, or marriage, God shows us in St. Joseph that He will be there to correct our mistakes. In God, through the intercession of St. Joseph, we do not need to fear making the wrong decision, because God will always write straight with our crooked lines.

 

 Lord, watch over us poor sinners as we try to continue along the path to eternity with You. Guide our minds and our hearts as we make the tough decisions in our lives. Cast out any fear that may haunt us. Fill us with confidence, knowing that You are always with us along our journey. Amen.

 

Ex 17:1-7    Ps 95:1-2, 6-9   Jn 4:5-42  or Jn 4:5-15, 19b-26, 39a, 40-42  

THIRD WEEK OF LENT
Sunday, March 19
Matthew Pousse
Assistant Director/Internship Coordinator
of the Career Center

 

What I Truly Need

 

“[Jesus said]…but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” - John 4:14

 

   Think back to a time when you either said or heard the word “need” in a sentence. “I need to go to the store.”  “I need to study for the test.”  In my work, it is sometimes, “I need a job,” or, “I need to find an internship.” Within each and every one of us dwell various needs, both great and small. We probably have learned or thought about some of these needs at different times and places of our lives, such as learning about the basic needs of food, water, and shelter in an elementary school, or learning about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in a psychology class. No matter how self-sufficient we may be, we must accept the basic truth that our lives are dependent on needing certain things in order to continue to survive. Amidst abundance or blindness, it is possible to lose sight of the awareness or significance of our needs.

 

   The Samaritan woman in today’s Gospel probably faced more than what she expected when she went to the well. Her encounter with Jesus, however, pointed out a necessity greater than water, which all humans (including her) need. To truly have life within us, we need to drink and carry the One who first gave us life. Not only do our physical lives depend on everything created by God, but our whole being and eternal life depend on the One who is “the way, the truth, and the life.” In the same way that water is abundant in different forms throughout the earth, God’s presence, truth, and love are not far from us when we seek, acknowledge, and find Him.

 

Lord, please help me to seek and accept You and the water You give.  Amen.

 

Ex 17:1-7     Ps 95:1-2, 6-9    Jn 4:5-42  or Jn 4:5-15, 19b-26, 39a, 40-42

SECOND WEEK OF LENT                                                                     Saturday, March 18
Matthew Thibeau
Director of Strategic
Planning/Initiatives

 

Forgiveness Is Hard!

 

“So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.”  -Luke 15:20

 

   In Luke 15:1-3, we see that the audience for the parable of the prodigal son/the forgiving father/wounded loyalist is the Pharisees, not the disciples. Those in authority, not those who wonder. Those who seek to rule, not those looking for leaders. Do the lessons learned from the parable vary based on who is the listener, or are we all Pharisees and    disciples, saints and sinners, leaders and followers at the same time?

 

   This parable is often interpreted as God being the father, welcoming his repentant son home. When we leave, sin, and return, God, as the father, welcomes all and asks those who never left to be overjoyed with gladness. Forgive and forget; does that really ever work? Do we not always aspire for forgiveness, being forgiven, and unconditional acceptance? Do we not seek first to be a community of inclusion and welcome? While Jesus sought to form and inform the faithful with this parable, He intended it as a challenge to the Pharisees, more of a mirror than a map.

 

   Forgiveness must be hard!

 

   If one has status, education, position, privilege, and power, it must be difficult not to sit in judgement or seek to extract punishment. It is the curse of having the answers before questions are posed. To be the “us” that condemns the “them.” Jesus challenged the Pharisees, those endowed only with man-made rights, to consider that forgiveness is of foremost importance. Details matter less than desire. A sincere authority creates a unified community without demanding unity.

 

   Must forgiveness be hard?

 

   Today’s world, society, Church, campus, and classroom afford us multiple opportunities to choose to be either a Pharisee or a disciple, often many times in the same day! Lent gives us forty days to reflect on the choices we made to influence the ones we will make. The Trinity offers us grace to live by, and an invitation to engage life. God the Father is and always will be, the Holy Spirit sustains us, and Jesus gives us a model to emulate. Pharisees judge, exclude and rule. Disciples proclaim, welcome, and empower.

 

   If Lent is a season of prayerful reflection then, by design, it leads to an Easter choice. Do we want to be Pharisees or disciples?

 

Loving God, the disciples asked Your Son, "how should we pray?    We know without the answer to that question we cannot walk in relationship with You. Jesus also warns us to not pray like the Pharisees, standing in synagogues and street corners for all to see. As we walk our Lenten journey, Lord, help us remember that the important part of a disciple’s prayer isn't the words; it is the heart behind  the words. May we always beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, hypocrisy.  During our days of self-examination and introspection, may we determine all the more to worship God with a sincere and honest heart, coupled with regard for both the letter and the spirit of His Word with respect that radiates towards all we meet. Amen.

 

Mi 7:14-15, 18-20            Ps 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12           Lk 15:1-3, 11-32

SECOND WEEK OF LENT
Friday, March 17
Mary Catherine James
Senior Associate Director of
Admissions/Transfer Coordinator                                                                           
 

If Only We Could Trust God Like Joseph!

 

"He called for a famine upon the land; He broke the whole staff of bread. He sent a man before them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. They afflicted his feet with fetters, he himself was laid in irons; until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him. The king sent and released him, the ruler of people, and set him free. He made him lord of his house, and ruler over all his possessions." -Psalm 105:16-21

 

If there is one thing that people know about me, it is that I grew up with FIVE (5) brothers! And I love them all. I can’t imagine if any of them, let alone all of them, tried to kill me! We learn that Joseph’s brothers wanted to kill him, but settled for selling him off. Talk about the ultimate family betrayal! But we never heard Joseph complaining or wavering in his faith. Test after test, he endured twenty long years filled with tragic betrayal, false accusations, and severe disappointments. He was forgotten by those he helped, and there appeared very little hope concerning the future. Joseph passed the tests, and the tests proved the purity of his faith.

 

Sometimes, our test of faith is difficult and painful. We search for signs of how God will send us what we think we need, playing out “if only” scenarios in our minds, and praying that God will arrange our success.

 

"You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good" (Genesis 50:20). Too often, we say that we believe that God is in complete control of all our circumstances, but do we really believe it? Do we accept life as it comes to us without complaining? Sometimes, what appears to be a huge setback is God’s way of testing us and preparing us for what’s ahead.

 

Lord, help us pass our “test.” May the life of Joseph encourage us to learn to trust God, not just in the good times, but especially during the difficult times of our lives. Amen.

 

Gn 37:3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28a          Ps 105:16-21            Mt 21:33-43, 45-46

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