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Daily Reflections for Lent

1st Sunday in Lent                                                                       February 22nd  
Rev. Larry Donohoo                                                                    Seminary Professor

                                     

Under The Rainbow

 

“I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant

 between me and the earth.” Gn 9:13

 

   While vacationing in the Rockies many years ago, I saw, after a sky-cleaning storm of great intensity, the most lustrous rainbow of my life. Despite what they say is impossible, I walked to this rainbow’s end and stood inside it, and the pot of gold is still there in a lasting memory of hope. Après le déluge, the rainbow teaches us, there is the clear light of sky glory. This is why we look for the celestial prism during a sunlit rainfall and rejoice to see this lining to the clouds. The rainbow appears as well in our first reading in this First Sunday of Lent. And so this season, marked by repentance and discipline, is colorfully painted with a statement of hope in the arc of Noah’s rainbow. Lent is enclosed by this larger brilliance because divine love and mercy must form the context for any program of reform. It is because God cares about me deeply that I care enough to prepare for Him. The fear of the saint, to which I aspire, is that of disappointing the One who has invested so much in me. The nature of this investment is seen just before the end, just before the Easter rainbow, when the storm was most intense, when “the earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened.” This investment is found at the start of Mark’s Gospel, just eleven verses in when Jesus was driven by the Spirit into an intense battle with Satan. So our Divine Pioneer is found at the beginning and end of Lent as a vulnerable warrior and wounded Savior. As the one who walked the storm. And as the Light of the World who is the Alpha and Omega of our journey, and will guide us through our Lenten season and the storms of life.

 

   Lord Jesus, accompany me through the desert of Lent, so that all my acts of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving are impressed with Your love, sustained by Your power, and pointed to Your glory. Amen.

Saturday after Ash Wednesday                                       February 21st
Sem.Will Powell 2nd Theology

                                                                                                                                

Before All Else

                                                                                               

“Jesus said to them in reply, ‘Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.’” Mt 9:12

 

   It's easy to point the finger and say that the Christian life is easy for "those people." Those people could be seminarians, people in Campus Ministry, FOCUS missionaries, or your very devout grandmother. The fact remains that Jesus is not calling just them. He’s calling you too. He wants everyone, wherever they are, to take that next step closer to Him. It's a relationship. If you are in love, the conversation needs to move beyond how bad the food is in Patriot Hall or how cold it is outside. When you are in a relationship you want to really know that person and you want them to really know you. The same is true with our relationship with God. We should not go to Him only when we want something. Share with Him our hopes, our dreams, our struggles, our failures, and especially what we want from our relationship with Him. He doesn't just want those perceived "holy people." He wants us, all of us. Not just the parts we are willing to give Him, but all of us so He can heal us and draw us closer to Himself. Be in relationship with Him. He wants us wherever we are spiritually. He loves us wherever we are in your faith. But, He loves us too much to let us stay there. Don't settle for being sick or crippled. We go to Jesus so He can heal us and give us more than we could ever dream for ourselves.

 

Lord, show me how to be in a deeper relationship with You. 

Help me to experience Your love for me and to grow closer to You. Amen.

Friday after Ash Wednesday                                    February 20th                                                                                                           Pia Saldarriaga C ‘16

                                                                                              

More Than Going Through The Motions  

                                                                                             

“Can the wedding guests mourn

as long as the bridegroom is with them?” Mk 2:19

 

                 Today’s Gospel shows us how the Pharisees abided by Jewish law for so long, that they forgot the true meaning behind their fasting. They simply believed that it was a law they had to follow, and criticized Jesus for not following the written law.  As Catholics, we are tempted to fall into that same type of problem because of the many rituals in Church. We must not forget that Fridays in Lent are not just a day of sacrificing our meals. True fasting  occurs when we give up what fills us physically and turn to Christ to let Him fill us with His grace. Too often do we turn good deeds into personal goals to boost our ego or to avoid feelings of guilt. We must come outside of ourselves and not treat fasting as a mere ritual, but as a representation of our love for  Jesus Christ. Think about today’s fasting as an act of charity for a brother or sister in need. Offer it up for someone who is suffering and suffer alongside them. I guarantee that this action will make your day of fasting much more meaningful.

Lord, help me to see beyond  your commandments to find                                                                                                   the deeper  meaning behind them. Amen.

Thursday After Ash Wednesday                                    February 19th

Angela Marinelli C  ‘17

 

Will You Choose To Accept His Love?

Will You Choose To Accept His Suffering?   

                                                                                            

“Then He said to all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me,

 he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Lk 9:23

 

   As followers of God, we are called to imitate the life and love of Jesus Christ. Jesus is kind, Jesus is compassionate, Jesus is forgiving, Jesus is perfect, and Jesus is… suffering. We can live our lives in the example of Christ: trying to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving, but we can’t disregard the pain He endured. We can not narrate the life of Jesus Christ as some sunshine happy fairytale story of an adorable baby boy who just one day rose from the dead and saves the entire world without any recognition of suffering. Because from what does He rise? Death. And how does He die? By crucifixion. I know there is no way to do that without pain and suffering. Love is sacrifice. He shows His love for you through this sacrifice. Will you choose to show your love for Him through yours?
 

   The Gospel today calls us to imitate Christ in His Passion by carrying our own crosses. Our crosses that are beautifully fashioned by the hands of God for each one of us specifically.  Maybe you think your cross is too much for you to carry, pray for humility to  accept that help. Even Jesus accepted help from Simon of Cyrene. Will you choose to accept your cross? Or maybe you think your cross isn’t big enough to be worthy of even calling it a cross; maybe you think it’s selfish to refer to it as one when you’re surrounded by so many others who are suffering much more. But we all have  different crosses, big or small, they’re all beautiful and yours is entrusted to your care by God. Will you choose to accept your cross? Or maybe your cross is watching those you love suffer and being physically unable to help them- but maybe you’ve convinced yourself that’s just the lack of a cross. But that’s not true and it is definitely a cross in itself. Will you choose to accept your cross? Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, at the foot of the cross didn’t suffer physically by death on a cross as Jesus did, but there’s no denying that she suffered emotionally. She watched her beloved son gasp for air while He was hanging on a cross from the nails in His hands- and I’m sure she felt helpless. Find solace in unity with her suffering and pray for the grace to accept the cross entrusted to you.
 

   St. Therese of Lisieux reminds us that everyone’s cross is united to Jesus’ Passion, but are still beautifully unique to each one of us: “I realized that all souls have more or less the same battles to fight, but no two souls are exactly the same.” Jesus trusts you to carry the cross He has given you. Will you trust Him to help you carry it, by accepting it daily? 

 

Father, help me to continue to choose daily to carry my cross. Help me to remember we are all suffering together as the Body of Christ. I pray that during this Lenten season I will embrace the opportunity to help someone around me carry their cross and to also have the humility to accept that same help that may be offered to me. Amen.

Ash Wednesday                                                                February 18th  
Deacon Eric Bolek S ‘15

                                                                                                                                                  

Fasting Without Love Is Misery

                                                                                               

“When you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,

 so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father

who is hidden.” Mt 6:17-18b 

 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus explains the difference between the appearance of fasting and the reality of fasting.  Jesus tells us not to give the appearance of fasting because that only wins the acclaim of men, but when you fast, it ought to be a personal thing, between you and God.  All acts between man and God are necessarily dependent upon a relationship of love.  Therefore, the reality of fasting is an act of love.  When we are able to physically deny ourselves, we become more readily unveiled so as to receive from God spiritually.  Do not passively accept God’s desire for you to fast this year.  When you fast this Lent, let it be an intense fast, one that pushes you to prayer and self-denial. When you are finally able to fast with conviction, you won’t care if anyone else knows you are fasting. 

 

Lord, help me to pray so as to be in Your presence, to give alms so I may be without so as to be with You, and to fast so as to hunger for You alone.  Lord, let me challenge myself to make this Lent more holy and fruitful.  Amen.

 

EASTER SUNDAY
Fr. Brian Doerr, Vice Rector of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary

 

"And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow."
Matthew 28:3

 

The significance, the majestic and incompressible significance of this most Sacred Day, is expressed somewhat closely (but even still inadequately) by an ancient text that some attribute to St. Ambrose of Milan and that others believe is even more ancient.

 

As the Easter Liturgy of the Church begins, the sacred fire, the Light of Christ, now glowing atop the Paschal Candle, enters the nave of the Church and is taken to the Ambo and is incensed. The minister, a Deacon of the Word, vested in a white dalmatic, calls to our mind the angel of the Gospel, who stood next to the empty tomb to proclaim to all the world the joyful news, “He is risen, as He said!” The Sacred Scripture records, “And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow” (Matthew 28:3).

 

And the angelic Deacon begins to proclaim one of the most beautifully profound texts preserved by the Church: “Exalt! Let them exalt, hosts of heaven… Be glad! Let the earth be glad… Rejoice! Let Mother Church exalt!

 

What follows has the power to destroy the grip of the Evil One over all the world! The text continues to proclaim “the awesome glory of this holy night,” the night that saw the work of Christ complete, the work that “paid Adam’s debt” and “wiped clean the record of our ancient sinfulness.” “This is the night, when Christ broke the prison bars of death and rose victorious from the underworld” “THIS,” the text demands, “This is the night!”

 

And, in the midst of the power and glory and triumph of so great a risen Savior crashing forth upon the earth, the text turns radically to a truth so beautiful, so tender, that those who listen and truly hear, men or women, girl or boy, feel tears dripping down their face: “O love, O charity beyond all telling, to ransom a slave you gave away your Son!”

 

What is this proclamation? One’s mind returns to the desert where nomads traveled about and are caught or raided by a marauding party and you, a worthless slave, is manhandled and taken from your master and his tribe. Contemplating the violence, abuse and, perhaps, death to come, you are succumb to a dark and hopeless despair. Then it happens: you look up from the darkness, utterly stunned to see your master at the edge of the camp, ready to exchange his own son into slavery to win your release. It is not comprehensible! Nobody would believe it; you, yourself, do not even believe it.

 

And yet, that is what we proclaim! Man, you and me, captured by so great an enemy as Satan, a fallen-spirit of Archangelic Power, tears us from the life of the Father… who, in turn, pursues us over the centuries until he approaches us, at the edge of Satan’s camp… and with an unfathomable depth of love, comes before us, beaten down and enslaved as we are, and makes the offer of His Son for YOU. Sweet unfathomable exchange! His life for your life; too great for us even to conceive.

 

What good would life had been to us, had Christ not come to us as our redeemer!

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for the brightness of Your light and for ransoming us back from slavery to freedom. You have gives us new life in You. May we forever live in Your life and love. Amen.

Acts 10:34, 37-43; Ps 118: 1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Col 3:1-9 or 1 Cor 5:6-8; Jn 20:1-9 or Mt 28: 1-10

HOLY SATURDAY
Deacon Zak Barry, S ‘14

 

"Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep."
– text from Office of Readings for Holy Saturday

 

This truly is a strange day. Lent is over and Good Friday just behind us, but Easter isn’t here yet. For the day, we’re stuck in an in-between period.

 

But what was this like for the disciples? We’ve just reflected on the passion and death of our Lord – the events that took place leading up to His death and the details of His crucifixion. This is part of our faith, a practice into which we enter every year as a Church. The challenge for us is to live these days with a reflective spirit and a recollected heart. But over 2000 years ago, the challenge for the disciples was confusion and ignorance.

 

They did not know the whole story, because they were living it as it unfolded. Christ tried to prepare them, but they could not understand. They didn’t know what was happening, but even had they anticipated the resurrection, they would have been overcome. Their teacher and friend, with whom they had dined less than two days earlier had suffered a horrible death and wasn’t even given time for a proper burial. Worse yet, they had almost all abandoned Him at the hour of His greatest need, even denying their relation to Him.

 

Surely they were in shock. And perhaps we feel some of that same disorientation even today. We have spent several weeks of Lent preparing for these days, meditating on our lives and on God’s great mercy, striving to better answer Christ’s call to live as sons and daughters of the Kingdom of God. And if we have allowed our liturgical participation in these last few days to work in our heart and soul, entering into meditation on the last days of Christ’s life, today we may well feel spiritually drained.

 

What are we to do today, after the Lord’s death but before His resurrection? It is a day of silence. Today, we meditate on the gift we have been given in Christ and the profound effect His death had on all of creation. And of course, we look forward not only to celebrating His Easter resurrection but also to His second coming.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, help me to enter into the mystery of Your death and resurrection. Stir up in me Your Holy Spirit so that my participation in these holiest of days may bear fruit in my soul to eternal life. Amen.

Gn 1:1-2 or Gn 1: 1, 26-31a, Ps 104: 1-2, 5-6, 10, 12-14, 24, 35 or Ps 33:4-7, 12-13, 20, 22; Mat 28: 1-10

GOOD FRIDAY
Deacon Matthew Capadano, S '14

 

"I thirst."
John 19: 28-30

 

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the scripture), "I thirst." A bowl full of vinegar was present; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the vinegar, He said, "It is finished;" and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

 

Good Friday recounts the day when Jesus is falsely accused, scourged to the point of visible bones and muscle fibers, rejected by His people, spit upon, made to carry a cross which he didn't earn, crucified, and then in his most desperate moment, He was given vinegar to drink. And why? Love.

 

During these moments of pain, humiliation, and total abasement, Jesus had in His mind and heart our faces; your face. With each lashing, mockery, thorn, step, nail, and drop of blood He imagined you and said, "I do this because I love you."

 

It is due to this love we venerate the cross today. We reverently approach and kiss a device of torture and corporal punishment because it is through this apparatus that Jesus proves His total, perfect, and undeserved love for us... For you!

 

On this Good Friday, do not allow yourself to focus on your sins, Jesus has done this for you today. Instead, focus on the incredible love Jesus has for you. Pray with the image of Jesus, bloodied and broken upon the cross and picture how He looks at you. Receive the love you see in His eyes, receive His mercy. By focusing on Him and not yourself, by receiving His love and mercy, you are quenching His thirst, because He thirsts for you to receive His love.

 

Listen to Him. Jesus says, "I thirst." How are you going to quench His thirst?

 

Loving Jesus. I come before You with the desire to quench Your thirst upon the cross. All You want is for me to receive Your love and merciful forgiveness. May I satisfy Your thirst by freely receiving Your love, and by so doing, give You what Your heart desires. Help me not to give You the vinegar of self-reliance with attempts to earn Your grace, I only ask You to help me understand just how free and complete Your love and forgiveness are. Amen.

Is 52: 13-53:12, Ps 31: 2, 6, 12-13, 15-17, 25, Heb 4: 14-16; 5:7-9; Jn 18: 1-19:42

HOLY THURSDAY
Deacon Corey Krengiel, S‘14

 

"If I, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do."
John 13:14-15

 

A model to follow. A way of life. The way of service. The way of: “If you want to be the greatest of all, then be the servant of all.” It is a way of following Jesus -of being Jesus - and of making our Lord’s Sacred Heart present as we respond to His prompting toward true, sacrificial love.

 

Is it more natural to look out for ourselves in the world or to look out for others? Which is more supernatural? As he awaits his death on the cross, Jesus calls us toward the supernatural -that is, He calls us out of our selfishness, to a higher, or “super” way of life. It is when we respond to that call, outward and upward, that we realize it is more natural to be supernatural. Our hearts and minds were designed to serve, and the designer become flesh reminds us of that by filling up a bowl with water and washing the Apostles’ dirty feet. A model to follow. The way of service. It is our path to happiness and our path to eternal life. It’s more natural to be supernatural.

 

Lord Jesus, help me to make the life a service my way of life, and so imitate You who laid down Your life on the cross for the salvation of the whole world. Amen.

Ex 12: 1-8, 11-14, Ps 116: 12-13, 15-18, 1 Cor 11: 23-26; Jn 12:1-15

WEDNESDAY OF HOLY WEEK
Mikayla Stratton, C ‘17

 

"…The Lord has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him that is weary. Morning by morning, He wakens, he wakens my ear as those who are taught…"
Isaiah 50:4

 

A few thoughts came to me as I encountered this reading. The other day my Theology class was discussing Moses. Parallels can be drawn between Isaiah’s texts to the classical story of Moses.

 

Moses was an average guy. When he was called by God to “let His people go,” Moses initially tried to dodge the bullet. He asked, “Who am I to go to Pharaoh?” and he even dared to ask God -the creator of everything, the omnipotent and omniscient, the mysterious voice coming from a bush -His name! But God assured Moses He would be with him when Moses went to Pharaoh, and promised Moses he would be capable of following God’s instructions.

 

In today’s reading, it says, “the Lord has given me the tongue of those who are taught” and He opens our ears so that we can understand. So sure, Moses had his brother Aaron to help him speak to Pharaoh, but he was able to lead the Israelites through the desert and beyond many instances of unfaithfulness. Through God’s help, Moses’ led the people to the Promised Land. Moses was able to “sustain with a word” God’s weary people.

 

So too, does God sustain us day by day. He has given us - average people like Moses - the ability to know and understand His ways. We have been given the gift of evangelizing and helping others with God’s teachings and Word. Sometimes we try to dodge the bullet. We say “who are we to do those things? Who am I to understand God’s ways?” God is mysterious, infinite, and all powerful, but He gives us the ability to spread the good news and He gives us the ears to hear it.

 

During this Lenten season, let us respond to God who is calling us. Let us accept God makes us worthy by giving us the graces we need. And let us take action to follow His instructions.

 

Lord, let us be the work of Your hands and may our hands do Your work. Amen.

Is 49: 1-6, Ps 71: 1-6, 15, 17; Jn 13:21-33, 36-38

 
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