February 26 ASH WEDNESDAY
“Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart.” (Joel 2:12)
As we begin our journey of Lent, this time of reconciliation and spiritual growth, we are reminded that change, repentance and transformation are integral to the Christian life. To repent means to change your way, to turn around. Reflect today on how you hope to grow and change during this holy season, and ask God for the grace and strength to follow through. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiZ2qFbJdwI
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) What do you need to give up this Lent to truly follow Jesus? What are you challenged to embrace? Pray for a deeper trust in God’s plan of love and life for you.
“This is the fasting I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, setting free the oppressed, sharing your bread with the hungry.” (Isaiah 58:6-7)
While we may give up chocolate, or fast food, or meat during Lent, we are reminded today that our sacrifices are aimed to purify our hearts and spirits. What we aim to give up during this Lent is selfishness and pride in order to serve our brothers and sisters.
“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.” (Luke 5:31-32)
Each of us is supposed to get a medical check-up every year. Lent is a time that we do our spiritual check-up. Jesus is the divine physician who can heal us of our sins, our struggles, our emptiness. Can I ask Jesus to help heal what I need to be healed this Lent to follow him as Matthew?
March 1 First Sunday of Lent
“At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.” (Matthew 4:1)
We too are led by the Spirit into the deserts that are in our hearts so that Jesus can heal us and make us whole. Pray for the grace to overcome temptation and recognize the Spirit in you molding and shaping transformation.
“Whatever you did for one of these least brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40) Pray to be able to better recognize Jesus in those people who are poor and suffering.
“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” (Matthew 6:12) Do you need to ask forgiveness of someone? Do you need to try to forgive someone else? Pray for the grace to make forgiveness a greater part of your life today.
“At the preaching of Jonah they repented.” (Luke 11:32)
To repent means to “turn around” or to “change your heart.” When we repent, we turn back towards the loving face of God, and away from what is not life-giving. What do I need to turn away from? What do I need to turn towards?
“Knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)
Prayer is having a conversation with God. We are invited to have confidence that God hears us and will grant what we truly need. When we knock, God will answer the door. Can I be confident that God listens to my needs and prayers today?
“If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed…none of the crimes he committed shall be remembered against him.” (Ezekiel 18:21-22) When we receive God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, God forgets our sins! What great news! The challenge for many is, “Can I forgive myself and embrace God’s love?”
“But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly father.” (Matthew 5:44-45)
Lent can be a time of healing and reconciliation. Holding on to resentment diminishes us in the end. Who might I be called to pray for today? What might I do to mend a strained or broken relationship?
March 8 Second Sunday of Lent
“Jesus was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.” (Matthew 17:2)
How is Jesus transforming and transfiguring you during this Lent? Do you believe that beyond the Cross and suffering lies redemption and glory? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeQlwc5FpEg
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)
Forgiveness, mercy and goodness are some of the key attributes of God that we are called to imitate as his children. Can I forgive someone today? Can I show mercy to someone today? Can I experience the presence of God as I do so today?
“Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow.” (Isaiah 1:18)
The prophet reminds us today that God always seeks to be merciful and forgiving. How am I trying to turn away from sin and receive God’s merciful love to be transformed?
“Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant.” (Matthew 20:26)
I can often be like the scribes that Jesus describes in the Gospel — calling attention to myself and seeking to be honored, while not practicing what I preach. Can I think today about how I can empty myself of pride and receive God’s goodness and grace in my life?
“More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
Do you feel like this sometimes? Do you feel that your heart, your soul, is beyond repair? It’s not. Ask the Lord to help heal your heart, pray for strength to change.
“His brothers sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver.” (Genesis 37:28) Despite the evil intentions of Joseph’s brothers, God used their sin to bring about good and eventually save all of Israel from famine. Pray for the grace to trust that God will bring forth goodness and life from sin and death.
“This son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.” (Luke 15:24) How ready is God to forgive us when we ask forgiveness? He runs to find us, meet us and embrace us. It really is Amazing Grace.
March 15 Third Sunday of Lent
“Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts.” (Romans 5:5)
“What is an optimist? I can answer for myself in a very simple fashion: he or she is a person who has the conviction that God knows, can do, and will do what is best.” (Fr. Pedro Arrupe, former Superior General of the Jesuits) This is what hope is. Can I can place my hope and trust in God’s loving hands?
“Go and wash seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will heal, and you will be clean.” (2 Kings 5:10) Naaman was expecting something extraordinary from God, not something that seemed mundane. Almost halfway through Lent, maybe it’s time to reflect on what God has been doing these past few weeks, things that may not be earth-shattering but are still signs of God’s transformative love.
“Those who trust in you cannot be put to shame.” (Daniel 3:40)
Jesus invites us during Lent to put our trust in him. We take our worries, our doubts and our fears before him, praying for transformation. It takes a great leap of faith to have deeper trust. Can we take a small step forward in this trust today?
“Be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live.” (Deuteronomy 4:9)
Sometimes it sees we all have GDD: God Deficit Disorder; we forget about what God has done for us in the past. Take some time today and recall times you have felt God’s love and presence, and give thanks.
March 19 Solemnity of St. Joseph
“When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.” (Matthew 1:24)
We often think about Mary’s “Yes” to God and her courage, but don’t often think that Joseph did the same. He too trusted in God’s plan and was faithful to it. Pray through his intercession that you may have that same trust and courage in God’s plan for you.
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31)
Jesus constantly calls us to love those around us because God does. As we grow in faith, we recognize that to love our neighbor is to love God. And loving God is loving our true self as well.
“For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6)
As I give up things this Lent, as I make sacrifices, do I do so out of love or obligation? Are my sacrifices bringing me closer to know and love God? Reflect on this quote: “The one who devotes himself to service, will day by day grasp the necessity for it in greater measure, and will continually grow richer in faith.” –Mohandas Gandhi
March 22 Fourth Sunday of Lent
“You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” (Ephesians 5:8)
Today is Laetare Sunday, a Sunday in Lent in which we rejoice in our salvation, that we are children of the light. We rejoice in God’s love and mercy. We rejoice that God constantly calls out to us and seeks us. We rejoice that God gives us new life in Christ. Give thanks to God today and pray to be able to be strengthened on your Lenten journey.
“Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” (John 4:48)
Like the people in Jesus’ time, we would like signs and wonders. Yet God has given us the greatest sign of all in Jesus: God becoming human to lead us to salvation and the fullness of life. Can I believe in Jesus to lead me closer to God? Can I recognize what wonders he has already worked for me?
“Do you want to be well?” (John 5:6)
It seems a strange question to ask someone who had been ill for 38 years; however, the man doesn’t answer “yes,” but begins making excuses for why he’s there. Sometimes we may be the same, preferring to feel sorry for ourselves, as opposed to receiving Jesus’ healing and transformation of our lives. Because that makes us live a new life, one that is unknown. Respond to Jesus’ question.
March 25 Annunciation of the Lord
“For nothing will be impossible for God.” (Luke 1:37)
As Gabriel spoke to Mary, he helped her to realize that God had a great plan for her, one that seemed unlikely or impossible. Mary was able to say “Yes” to that plan for her. Pray to be able to recognize God’s plan for you, for your life. Pray to be able to say “YES” to that life.
“They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them, making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it.” (Exodus 32:8)
While we don’t worship a golden calf, we have a tendency to put other things before God, and in a sense, worship them. Which things in my life are idols that I worship? What do I need to let go of them?
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.” (Psalm 34:19)
Sometimes when we do what is right and just, we end up belittled and ostracized. The same thing happened to Jesus. Yet God is with us through it all to lift us up. Can you trust that God will raise you up if you’re faithful and follow him?
“As a Christian, I do not believe in death without resurrection.” –Saint Oscar Romero of El Salvador who was martyred in 1980 while celebrating Mass. Our readings today also turn towards the plot to silence Jesus. Opponents of the truth killed Jesus, they killed Archbishop Romero, they killed countless others. Pray for the courage to stand up for truth, even at personal cost — because it is only then that we can be resurrected.
March 29 Fifth Sunday of Lent
“I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25)
Jesus gives us new life and lifts us up from the tombs of our sin and despair. We are invited to receive him in our lives. If you haven’t already, spend some time in prayer and receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before Easter. Experience Jesus’ forgiveness and this new life.
“Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7)
Sometimes we can be cruel in judging others or withholding forgiveness genuinely offered. Take some time to reflect on how God is not judgmental, but forgiving of all of our sins.
“When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM.” (John 8:28)
As we get closer to Holy Week, the Cross comes more into focus. It is through the Cross that we see God. It is through the Cross that we see Love. Look to the Cross today to give you strength to complete your Lenten journey.
“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)
Sin makes us slaves to our own passions and separates us from our very selves, God and one another. Jesus came so we could break off these chains of sin and know the truth. The Truth is that God loves us, wants to forgive us and live within us. This is the Truth that sets us free.
“The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.” (Psalm 105:8)
Keeping promises is something that each of us has failed to do at one time or another. It may be difficult to keep the promises we make to parents, spouses, children or God. Yet despite our lack of faith, God is always faithful. God is always there for us. Thank God today for his abiding love.
“Even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” (John 10:38) In the Gospel of John, Jesus consistently calls his disciples to believe — believe in him, believe in God, believe in the Good News. What can you do today to deepen your belief in Jesus?
“It is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish.” (John 11:50)
The high priest Caiaphas said this in support of getting rid of Jesus. Yet the irony is that Jesus would die so that the people would not perish, but have eternal life. God can take evil plans and transform them. Give thanks to God for this great plan of love.
April 5 Palm Sunday
As we read the story of the Passion according to St. Matthew (26:14-27:66), we see how Jesus fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 50 and gives himself completely for us. As we begin Holy Week, spend some time in prayer and reflect on what Jesus has done for you.
April 6 Holy Monday
“I the Lord have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand.” (Isaiah 42:6)
“Our life does not exist by accident…My life is willed by God, from eternity. I am loved. I am necessary. God has a plan specifically for me.” (Pope Benedict XVI) Where have you heard the Lord call you this Lent? Can you believe in his love and his plan for you? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSIVjjY8Ou8&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PL8FAEDA227EBB3DBF
April 7 Holy Tuesday
“Master, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” (John 13:37) Peter had confidence in his own abilities, claiming he would die for Jesus. Yet a short time later, he will deny him. Judas, too, will betray Jesus. Yet Peter later accepted forgiveness, but Judas didn’t. We are asked to trust in Jesus’ forgiveness for our sins. Can you believe in his pardon?
April 8 Holy Wednesday
“The Lord God has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.” (Isaiah 50:4)
Jesus was able to speak words of comfort to the weary, to the broken, to the lost. Can you believe in his presence, even when you feel lost? Can you speak words of comfort and love to others who are broken or lost?
April 9 Holy Thursday
“If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow.” (John 13:14-15)
The model Jesus gives us is one of loving service, of laying down his life for his friends. How can you follow Jesus’ example? How can you love?
April 10 Good Friday
“Let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.” (Hebrews 4:16)
The Cross is Jesus’ throne of grace, from which mercy and love pour out upon us. Jesus spent his life giving of himself, loving us and trusting in God. He took all of our sin, all of our pain, and took it to the cross with him.
April 11 Holy Saturday
“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. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh.” (from an ancient homily on Holy Saturday)
Spend some time today reflecting on the past 40 days of Lent and give thanks for what Christ has done for you, and how you have grown. After reading this, turn off the electronics and silently listen for God.
April 12 Easter Sunday
“I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.” (Matthew 28:5-6)
Alleluia! Jesus is risen! As Pope Francis said: “Love has triumphed, mercy has been victorious! God’s mercy always triumphs because God’s love is stronger than evil and death itself. God’s love can transform our lives too.” Rejoice and be glad! Seek to continue living in the new life God has given you! Alleluia!