Third Sunday of Lent

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Like Moses, God calls each of us by name. Let us truly listen to him and trust in his word. Let us strive to reconcile our differences, strengthen our relationships with others, and draw closer to God.

"Old Soldiers"

Monday, February 22, 2016

by Sister M. Madeleva, CSC (1887-1964)
Look at this avenue. Do you not love it,
This regiment of trees in ranks of fours
Marching abreast, maples and sycamores?
It is a body-guard a king could covet.
I like its strength, but most, the beauty of it,
And this one thing too mere for metaphors,
Its gray-black-white with winter out-of-doors,
And any winter sky at all above it.

There is one austere veteran; you must know him,
That grave, gaunt sycamore, battered and white
And standing stark beneath the blue of noon.
What a fine debt of dignity we owe him!
But wait until you watch him through the night;
Wait till you see him sharp against the moon.

Second Sunday of Lent

Sunday, February 21, 2016

God promises light and salvation in the midst of darkness and despair. May the Lord strengthen our faith and give us courage to embrace the cross of Christ in our daily lives.

Pope Francis sends "Keep Lent" message

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Pope Francis sent an audio-message to the young people of the Prelature of the Pontifical Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii. It is the first contribution in the “Keep Lent” initiative of the shrine’s youth ministry office, which provides a daily Gospel reading and commentary from leading clergymen and lay catechists through social media throughout the penitential season. A Vatican Radio English translation of the full text of the pope’s audio-message is below.

Dear young people,

Jesus said to his disciples: “Be careful not to practice your good works before men to be seen by them”… “When you give to the poor do not sound a trumpet before you”… “Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

The Word of God gives us the right perspective in which to live Lent well. When we do something good, sometimes we are tempted to seek praise and to be rewarded: that’s human glory. But it’s a false reward because it makes us focus on what others think of us.

Jesus asks us to do good for the sake of good. He asks us to feel we are under the watchful gaze of our Heavenly Father at all times and to live in relationship with Him — not in relationship with the opinion of others.

Living in the presence of the Father gives us a much deeper joy than worldly glory can give us. May our attitude this Lent be one of living in secret where the Father sees us, loves us and waits for us. Naturally, exterior things are important too, but we must always choose to live in the presence of God.

Let us do what we can, in prayer, in sacrifice, and in acts of charity, humbly before God. This way we will be worthy of God the Father’s reward.

I wish you a blessed Lent.

May Our Lady of Pompeii accompany you and, please, pray for me.
Pope Francis

First Sunday of Lent

Sunday, February 14, 2016

God loves us endlessly.
Repent your sins and God will forgive.

Lent, an opportunity to grow

Friday, February 12, 2016

by Sister Margie Lavonis

Can it be Lent already?
The season of Lent is a very important time for Catholic Christians. Each year the Church, in her wisdom, gives us 40 days as an annual retreat to reflect upon our spiritual lives and our relationship with God. Lent is a yearly opportunity to slow down and take stock of how we are living our baptismal commitment and how well our actions are in line with the Gospel message of Jesus.

Our Catholic tradition suggests that we use the disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving to renew our spiritual lives during Lent — actually not just in Lent, but throughout our lives.

What about prayer? We might take a look at how much quality time we give to the Lord. Maybe our prayer life is limited to Mass on Sundays and a quick prayer before meals — when we remember. Perhaps we pray only when we need a favor, like asking God to heal a loved one or for one of our children to become a priest or religious. Let this Lent be different.

No relationship can deepen and grow unless we are willing to listen and share ourselves with the other person. God is no exception. During Lent, if you don’t already, set aside at least 15 minutes of your time each day to be with God. Go to a quiet place, if you can find one, slow down and let God love you. Read and reflect upon some Scripture each day and get to know the One Who Loves You Unconditionally and who has given you all you have. I suggest using the Mass readings for each day, reflecting on what God is saying to you. In fact, it would be good to go to Mass more than just on Sundays if you can.

Fasting is another important part of Lent. Most people think that fasting is primarily giving up some kind of food, like candy or ice cream. Abstaining from food is a way to fast, but there are other and sometimes more helpful ways we can fast. It depends on what type of fasting would best benefit our spiritual lives, not just our waistlines. Maybe it would be more beneficial for you to fast from gossip or negative words about others, or perhaps you could try to talk less and become a better listener, especially to people who could use your attention. It can be a real discipline to stop and focus on the other person and truly hear what he or she says, especially when we are in a hurry.

The third traditional Lenten discipline is to give alms. Many people think of almsgiving as giving money to some charitable cause. That is an important part of it, but it is much easier to give our loose change to people in need than to give the precious gifts of our time and talents to others. Lent calls us to give of ourselves, not just our financial and material resources. You might think about the people with whom you could spend more quality time. Who would most benefit from your gifts and talents?

Besides personal time, another thing one may be called to give during Lent is forgiveness. Who in your life — whether living or dead — do you need to forgive for some hurt done to you? Or of whom do you need to ask forgiveness? I think this is a very important way to give alms and is a sacrifice pleasing to our God. Reconciliation is not easy, but it brings peace to our hearts and homes.

During this Lent let us try to slow down, get to know God better, and be more reflective and conscious of the needs of others. Don’t let this opportunity to deepen your spiritual life slip by you. Material things and other concerns may pass away, but our relationship with God is forever. Get to know and serve God better during these days when we prepare for Easter. Don’t let this be just another 40 days of the year.

Ash Wednesday

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Gracious and merciful God, create a new and right spirit in us, that we may declare your praise and offer an acceptable sacrifice in this Lenten season.

Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit,
that my thoughts may all be holy. 
Act in me, O Holy Spirit,
that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit,
that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit,
to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit,
that I always may be holy. Amen.
St. Augustine

Prayer for an end to human trafficking

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, February 8, is designated as an annual day of prayer for survivors and victims of human trafficking. The crime of human trafficking must be addressed everywhere by all people who believe in justice, freedom and human rights.

Please join us in the following prayer:

O God, when we hear of children and adults deceived and taken to unknown places for purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labor and organ “harvesting,” our hearts are saddened and our spirits angry that their dignity and rights are ignored through threats, lies and force. We cry out against the evil practice of this modern slavery and pray with St. Bakhita for it to end. Give us wisdom and courage to reach out and stand with those whose bodies, hearts and spirits have been so wounded, so that together we may make real your promises to fill these sisters and brothers with a love that is tender and good. Send the exploiters away empty-handed to be converted from this wickedness, and help us all to claim the freedom that is your gift to your children. Amen. (Source)

Do not fear change

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Do not look forward in fear to the changes in life.
Rather, look to them with full hope that as they arise,
God, whose very own you are,
will lead you safely through all things;
and when you cannot stand it,
God will carry you in his arms.

Do not fear what may happen tomorrow.
The same understanding Father who cares for you 
today will take care of you then and every day.
He will either shield you from suffering
or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace, and put aside
all anxious thoughts and imaginations.
St. Francis de Sales