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Daily Reflections for Lent

PALM SUNDAY
Sunday, April 9
Sean Gordon Lewis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of English
 

God Is Dead and We Have Killed Him

 

“I am innocent of this man’s blood.” -Matthew 27: 24

 

The readings for Passion (Palm) Sunday are inexhaustibly rich, containing the most vital episode of the story of our Redemption: the loving, sacrificial death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ’s death was allowed to happen by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, and Pilate’s words are particularly worthy of consideration. Pilate clearly knows that Jesus Christ is innocent, both through his own reasoning (Matt 27:18) and through the prophetic dream of his wife (Matt 27:19).  Yet even with this knowledge, Pilate literally washes his hands of the whole affair, claiming to be innocent of the Blood of Jesus. 

 

How easy it is for us to take this stance: We are not a part of the evil and injustice that surrounds us. We surely are not guilty of the Blood of Jesus.  Our Catholic faith, however, teaches us in certain terms that we are all guilty. We cannot blame the Romans or the leaders of the   Jewish people or any other people for the death of Jesus: We are to blame.  For a believing Christian, part of Nietzsche’s nihilistic proclamation is actually true: God is dead, and we have killed Him (The Gay Science, sec. 125).

 

But God, in His superabundant love and mercy, is not content to remain dead. As we shall soon experience in the Easter Liturgy, God has raised Himself, and has given Himself the name which is above every other name (Phil. 2:9). If we die with the Lord, if we recognize our own role in His death (both the death He died once and the deaths He experiences daily in human suffering), if we repent of our sins and turn to Him, then we shall rise with Him, through suffering into glory.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for Your suffering and death to redeem me and all of the world.  Help me to recognize my own sins, to turn from them, and to participate in Your saving love by loving You and my neighbor, from this day until the days of my own death and resurrection. Amen.

 

Is 50:4-7           Ps 22: 8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24   Phil 2:6-11    Mt 27:11-54 or Mt 26:14-27:66

FIFTH WEEK OF LENT
Saturday, April 8
Nicholaus Jurgensmeyer
Sem. Class of 2018

 

A Renewed Vigor for Lent

 

 

“I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” – Ez. 37:27

 

 

Lent is coming to a close and Easter is just around the corner. The first reading today gives us a renewed hope in the words “… that they may be my people and I may be their God.”  On this day we should have a renewed vigor in our Lenten practices to better anticipate Christ’s Resurrection.

 

But what does that look like today? Have we not already have been making our Lenten sacrifices for nearly forty days? As Lent moves along we can tend to forget why we are making the sacrifices in the first place. What then is purpose of our Lenten sacrifice? As it says in the first reading (Ez. 37:21-28) “No longer shall they defile themselves with their idols, their abominations, and all their transgressions. I will deliver them from all their sins of apostasy, and cleanse them so that they may be my people and I may be their God.” When we allow the idols of the world crowd our hearts, being overly distracted by technology, other people’s opinions of us, even people pleasing, we begin to make less room in our hearts for the love of Christ. 

 

The renewed vigor of our Lenten sacrifices is a reminder of how we are to cast away these idols of the world in order to make space in our hearts for God to dwell forever. 

 

Lord Jesus Christ give me the strength and courage to continue to follow you. As I look to the day of your Resurrection help me in these coming days to prepare my heart, mind, and soul for you. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

 

Lord Jesus Christ give me the strength and courage to continue to follow you. As I look to the day of your Resurrection help me in these coming days to prepare my heart, mind, and soul for you. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 E 37: 21-28        Jer 31: 10. 11-12abcd. 13       Jn 11: 45-56

FIFTH WEEK OF LENT
Friday, April 7
Meghan Wittmer
Class of 2018

 

Jesus Helps Us Carry Our Cross

 

“I love you Lord, my strength, Lord, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my God, my rock of refuge, my shield, my saving horn, my stronghold!” -Psalm 18:2-3

 

“It will be okay, don’t worry.” How many times have we heard this? How many times do we use this phrase to comfort someone we love? I believe we say it often because, in today’s world, we like to hide our sufferings, dismissing them as if they don’t matter. We don’t want others to know our wounds and, instead of talking about them, we cover them up. However, God gives us trials for a reason. They draw us closer to Him and help us bring others closer to God by sharing our trails with others. When we are going through difficult times, God calls us to rely on His strength and grace to assist us. Once the trial is over, we can look back and reflect, “God got me through that difficult time.”

 

My Mom is an amazing woman. She lost my younger sister to cancer about ten years ago and, just a week ago, she lost my Dad to cancer. Her faith in God has never faltered through it all. She has continuously placed her trust in God and accepted His will for her life, no matter how hard and difficult the situation. My Mom has taught me, and everyone that she meets, the importance of having complete trust in God’s will. She is not afraid to talk about her sufferings with others because they have helped my mother become the woman that she is today.

 

Lean on Jesus during hard times. He will help us carry our cross and follow in His footsteps until we reach the eternal glory of heaven. Hold onto Him, for He is our rock, our foundation, our stronghold, and our salvation!

 

Jesus, help me bear my sorrows for love of You, trusting that You are with me. I know that You will always be at my side, giving me the strength I need to carry my cross. Amen.

 

Jer 20:10-13        Ps 18:2-3a, 3bc-4, 5-6, 7                Jn 10:31-42

FIFTH WEEK OF LENT
Thursday, April 6
Rachel E. Keifer
Class of 2020

Don't Forget His Love

 

“Remember the wonderful works that He has done.” -Psalm 105:5

 

One song that touches my heart in a powerful way is “The One I Love,” by Third Day.  As Peter is walking on the waves and begins to sink, Jesus speaks to Him with the powerful lyrics, “Oh, you of little faith, why do you let the wind and the waves distract you? Oh, you of little faith, how quickly and often you have forgotten!” This last line really convicted my heart one day in prayer as I realized I so often forget how God has gotten me to where I am and will not let me sink. How often I fail to trust God and, instead, try to take my life into my own hands out of pride! As I broke down in the chapel listening to these words, I prayed that I would have the courage to respond to this incredible, unfathomable, faithful love.

 

So, how to respond? Today, the Lord shows us a few different ways. In the Old Testament, Abraham is overwhelmed and humbled by the    fulfillment of a promise. In the Gospel, Jesus offers the Pharisees, once again, the opportunity to believe in Him, citing the story of their father Abraham, and is met with harsh words and threats. In the Psalm, He says that we have to relentlessly seek Him and remember the wonderful works He has done in our lives. This could be anything from a powerful encounter in Confession or Adoration, to a conversation with a friend or an answer to prayer.

 

When we remember these things, instead of casting stones born of pride, like the Pharisees, we will respond to His faithfulness as we should; overwhelmed, face down on the ground, like Abraham.

 

Lord, help me remember Your faithfulness. You never fail, but my heart does. You never forget about me, but I forget about You. You reach for me. Let me long to reach back for Your outstretched hand with complete trust, knowing that You will be faithful and always fulfill Your promises. Amen.

 

Gn 17: 3-9           Ps 105:4-9          John 8:51-59

FIFTH WEEK OF LENT
Wednesday, April 5
Cynthia P. Fraga-Cañadas, Ph.D
Professor of Education and Languages

 

Count On The Mount!

 

“If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” -John 8: 31, 32

 

 

In the first reading of Daniel, we learn of three brothers who are tossed into a burning fire by a powerful king for refusing to worship a golden statue. “How strong is my faith?” I ask myself this question as I ponder through the story. In an age of Christian persecution, the international media brings news of priests, nuns, and missionaries who are being killed for their FAITH! The King is amazed at the end of the reading of Daniel when he sees an angel delivering the three brothers to their God, OUR God. How strong is YOUR faith? Take time today to ask yourself that question. During my college years in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I was very involved in service learning and missionary work. I was blessed just like you are here at the Mount with opportunities to affirm my faith and share it with the most vulnerable. There were many times when I was walking amidst the streets of the poor barrios where children lived on the streets and parents engaged in delinquent activities that I fear for my life, but I carried a wooden cross around my neck and I firmly believed God was with me. I beg you, take the opportunities the Mount gives you through your professors, Campus Ministry, and service trips to grow in your faith so when you are challenged, and you will be, you can be like the three brothers. Count on the Mount to strengthen your faith. My husband and I have loved teaching here since 2008. We truly believe your Mount education strives to shed light on these verses of the Gospel of John: “If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” -John 8: 31, 32.

 

Dear God, You who sent an angel to deliver the three brothers, make me stronger in my faith during my time at The Mount.“Blessed are You in the firmament of heaven, praiseworthy and glorious forever.” (Dn 3: 56) Amen.

 

Dn 3:14-20, 91-92, 95      Dn 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56        Jn 8:31-42

 

FIFTH WEEK OF LENT
Tuesday, April 4
Chris Ziegler
Sem. Class of 2022

 

God is Preparing Us for Glory

 

“Why have You brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water?” -Numbers 21:5

 

Holiness is hard. Sinful habits die slow deaths. It sometimes feels like God has played a trick on us. In a moment of weakness, we sought His help, and now we find ourselves wandering in a desert of penance and self-denial. We’re tempted to grumble against God and, like the Israelites, to cast a longing glance back toward Egypt.

 

But how could we forget about the time the Lord heard our cry? We were enslaved to sin. We were in misery. Yet the Lord took pity on us, even though we had no one but ourselves to blame. He heard our groaning and set us free. He did not hide His face.

 

God will not abandon those whom He has called. The Promised Land is on the horizon, but our eyes are too weak to see. If we could only comprehend what the Lord has in store for us, our hearts would burst with joy. We belong to Christ. This is the meaning of our lives. Once we start to live this truth, the purpose of our pain becomes clear: God is preparing us for glory.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, son of Mary, help me to view my struggles, not as opportunities to complain, but as opportunities to show my love for You. Amen.

 

Num 21:4-9    Ps 102:2-3, 16-18, 19-21       Jn 8:21-30

FIFTH WEEK OF LENT
Monday, April 3
Patrick Fitzgerald
Class of 2019

 Lines in the Sand

 

“Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They said this to test him so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down  and began to write on the ground with His finger.” -John 8:5-6

 

As Catholics, we are called to forgive and be forgiven. Through forgiveness, we are shown mercy because the Father is merciful. When the Pharisees and the Scribes went to see Jesus with the adulterous woman, they were testing Him. Jesus Christ was not bothered by their question because He knew that they were looking for Him to mess up in His teaching. The Pharisees and Scribes went on and on about how the woman had sinned and how the community should follow Moses' law and stone her. Jesus answered after writing something in the sand, instructing those who have not sinned to throw the first stone. Realizing that they all had sinned in their lives, the Pharisees and Scribes decided not stone her. Through His mercy and compassion, Jesus tells the woman to go and sin no more.

 

What a powerful message of forgiveness! Throughout Scripture, Christ shows both compassion and forgiveness. When reflecting upon the Gospel, I always wonder what it would have been like to have been there. Wondering, what was Jesus writing in the sand? Could it have been instruction, a picture, or was He just trying to pass the time? We should all follow Christ's words and go and sin no more because Jesus Christ did not suffer and die for us in order to condemn us as the Pharisees wanted Him to do, but to be forgiven. Indira Gandhi once said that "forgiveness is the virtue of the brave." Jesus Christ calls us to be brave this Lenten season and to remember that we are to seek forgiveness and to forgive others. We stand in need for forgiveness, and can receive this through the sacrament of Reconciliation.

 

Lord give me the serenity to accept Your unconditional forgiveness and love. Allow me to grow in holiness and to have the grace to forgive all just as You forgive. Amen.

 

Dn 13: 1-9, 15-17,19-30,33-62 or 13: 41c-62     Ps 23: 1-6    Jn 8: 1-11

FIFTH WEEK OF LENT
Sunday, April 2
David M. McCarthy, Ph.D.
Interim Associate Provost

 

Sarah Laughs and Mary Cries

 

“Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” -John 11:40

 

When Sarah, wife of Abraham and progenitrix of the people of God, overhears that she will conceive and bear a son, she laughs (Genesis 18:12). She is older than your grandmother. Grandma McCarthy would certainly laugh: In terms of the body and the natural course of things, bearing a child would be impossible. In terms of her life-course and expectations for her final years and days, what would she do with son anyway? What good would a son do her now? But we know from the story of Abraham and Sarah that Isaac, their son, will be born and will live for the glory of God—that a people will be dedicated to God as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:6). Sarah’s scoffing (laughing) turns to joy.

 

The raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-45) follows the same pattern. When Jesus receives word that Lazarus is near death, He takes His time. When He arrives too late, Mary is frustrated and distraught, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32). Jesus, too, wept. Because of the loss and pain, Mary and Martha (and we as well) are likely to miss the point of raising Lazarus from the dead: not only does Jesus overcome natural limits of death, but also He presents a clear sign that God is liberating and gathering the people of God (1 Peter 2:1-5). New life for Lazarus will bring great joy for him and his sisters, but his release from death is not for him in the same way that Sarah’s son Isaac is not, strictly speaking, for her, but for the glory of God. When Jesus calls Lazarus out of the tomb, when tells those gathered, “Untie him and let him go” (John 11:44), Lazarus’s life becomes a sign for the world of God’s promise of salvation. He is a sign to us, about who we are called to be.

 

God, our Father, in the name of Jesus Christ and with Your life-giving Spirit, we pray that when we experience the joy of Easter, we give thanks that we and our new lives (like Lazarus’s) have become signs of God’s redemption for the world. Amen.

 

Ezek 37: 12-14    Ps 130: 1-2. 3-4. 5-6. 7-8   Rom 8:8-11      Jn 11:1-45

FOURTH WEEK OF LENT
Saturday, April 1
Katherine Lowe
Class of 2018   
                                                                                           

Not-So-Innocent Justice

 

God is a shield above me saving the upright of heart. God is a just judge,
powerful and patient, not exercising anger every day. -Psalm 7:11-12


 

The overwhelming theme of today’s readings is that of justice. Jeremiah trusts God to bring justice to those who plot against him, the Psalm sings of the Justice of God, and in the Gospel, Nicodemus scolds the Pharisees for their unjust prejudice against Christ. Sometimes it is difficult to discern justice from pettiness. Many of us try to be present for God in our daily lives, so we expect Him to fight our little grievances for us. A teacher gives a bad grade, a parent or a friend takes their frustration out on you, a person you trust lets you down again, and you wish God would come down and make them pay for the pain they’ve caused you. We can become patient in the worst way possible, willing to serve God if He will punish our enemies in a fulfillment of our own grudge matches. This is not God’s justice. God came for all and continues to love those who hurt us as much as He loves us. Lent is a time to reflect on the mercy and justice of redemption offered to all who are willing to take it. The Savior has come for you and your neighbor. Let us not become consumed with our own little sufferings and forget the suffering He endured for all mankind. The justice we seek is not for us to determine, since  we all have failed to be just, like the Pharisees in the gospel who ask, “Does our law condemn a person before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing” (Jn 7:51). Trust in God and the importance of sincere forgiveness in His Justice. Through growing to truly love your neighbor and the mercy they deserve this Lent, we can grow closer to God Himself.

 

God, the true source of Justice and Mercy, help me trust in Your Will. Amen.

 

Jer 11: 18-20       Ps 7: 2-3, 9bc-10, 11-12        Jn 7:40-53

FOURTH WEEK OF LENT
Friday, March 31
John Bilenki
Class of 2017

For The Glory of His Name

 

“And look, He is speaking openly, and they say nothing to Him.
Could the authorities have realized that He is the Messiah?” - John 7:26

 

In the first reading from the book of Wisdom, the wicked say of the Son of God, “[He] boasts that God is His Father. If the righteous One is the Son of God, God will help Him and deliver Him from the hand of His foe. Let us put Him to the test that we may have proof of His gentleness and try His patience” (Wis 2:16, 18-19). Christ’s perseverance in His passion and death, which we are quickly approaching in this Lenten season, is a response to this taunt from the wicked. He says to some skeptical inhabitants of Jerusalem in the Gospel today, “You know Me, and I also know where I am from. I did not come on My own, but the One who sent me, whom you do not know, is true” (John 7:28).  Jesus models for us the great grace of humility and simplicity of spirit that flow from His relationship with God the Father; this relationship allows Him to admit that “I know Myself to be nothing more than a Son of God, and My life is lived for the glory of His name.” Christ’s faithfulness and perseverance in carrying His cross model for us that God will be faithful to us whenever we undergo trials or sufferings.

 

Have you been faithful to God? Go before Him in prayer today remembering that you are His child. You are beloved in His sight. Beg His mercy for your shortcomings, but also, ask (seriously, ask!) for the grace of humility and simplicity of spirit that you, too, might say with Christ: “I know myself to be nothing more than a child of God, and my life is lived for the glory of His name.” Continue to bear your cross along as Jesus did on the journey to Calvary, for “[u]nless there is a Good Friday in your life there can be no Easter Sunday” (Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen). He loves you. Amen.

 

Wis 2: 1a, 12-22   Ps 34: 17-18, 19-20, 21 and 23   Jn 7: 1-2, 10, 25-30

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