Week 3 of Lent

Sunday, March 19th, Third Sunday of Lent, St. Joseph

"Zeal for your house consumes me." (John 2:17)

Reflection

" O Divine Truth, You give so much strength to the soul which clothes itself with You, that it never falters under the weight of adversity beneath the burden of troubles and temptations, but in every struggle it gains a great victory. I am wretched because I have not followed You, O Eternal Truth; hence I am so weak that in every least tribulation I fall" ...St Catherine of Siena

Lenten Question

Q: Is there a biblical basis for abstaining from meat as a sign of repentance?
A: Yes. The book of Daniel states: "In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia . . . 'I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.'" (Daniel 10:1-3)

Lenten Action

Say "I will pray for you" to someone who has shared a difficulty.

Prayer

Renew my eagerness to work with you in building a better world, so that my friends may hear your gospel of peace and justice.

March 20th - March 25th

Monday, March 20th

"Go and wash...and your flesh will heal." (2 Kings 5:10)

Reflection

Although I know well, Margaret, that because of my past wickedness I deserve to be abandoned by God, I cannot but trust in his merciful goodness. His grace has strengthened me until now and made me content to lose goods, land, and life as well, rather than to swear against my conscience. God's grace has given the king a gracious frame of mind toward me, so that as yet he has taken from me nothing but my liberty. In doing this His Majesty has done me such great good with respect to spiritual profit that I trust that among all the great benefits he has heaped so abundantly upon me I count my imprisonment the very greatest. I cannot, therefore, mistrust the grace of God.
By the merits of his bitter passion joined to mine and far surpassing in merit for me all that I can suffer myself, his bounteous goodness shall release me from the pains of purgatory and shall increase my reward in heaven besides.
I will not mistrust him, Meg, though I shall feel myself weakening and on the verge of being overcome with fear. I shall remember how Saint Peter at a blast of wind began to sink because of his lack of faith, and I shall do as he did: call upon Christ and pray to him for help. And then I trust he shall place his holy hand on me and in the stormy seas hold me up from drowning.
And finally, Margaret, I know this well: that without my fault he will not let me be lost. I shall, therefore, with good hope commit myself wholly to him. And if he permits me to perish for my faults, then I shall serve as praise for his justice. But in good faith, Meg, I trust that his tender pity shall keep my poor soul safe and make me commend his mercy.
And, therefore, my own good daughter, do not let you mind be troubled over anything that shall happen to me in this world. Nothing can come but what God wills. And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem, it shall indeed be the best. ..a letter by St Thomas More to his daughter Margaret

Lenten Action

Forgive one who has betrayed you and ask forgiveness from one you have betrayed.

Prayer

Jesus, may we know that when a person is forgiven and begins to walk in the path of righteousness he will go on to become the recipient of many spiritual blessings. May this be the inheritance of every true believer.

Tuesday, March 21th

"Lord, when my brother wrongs me, how often must I forgive him?" (Matthew 18:21)

He was chosen by the eternal Father as the trustworthy guardian and protector of his greatest treasures, namely, his divine Son and Mary, Joseph's wife. He carried out this vocation with complete fidelity until at last God called him, saying 'Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.'..... Saint Bernardine of Siena

Reflection

I had confided the painful story of my father to my friend. My parents separated bitterly when I was in high school. My father turned against his three sons. He circulated a letter of vicious lies in town to destroy our reputations and moved to Canada to avoid paying child support.
I last saw my father in 1964, when I was sixteen. After that, I spoke with him only twice. The last time, he claimed he was not my father and threatened to harm me if I ever contacted him again. Years later, in 1990, I learned that my father had died--and changed his last name!
It was now 1993. My friend knew my pain. In a gentle way we debated our subject over the phone. Citing Jesus' words, "if there is repentance, you must forgive," I clung to my anger and the reverse idea that Christians need not forgive, when there is no repentance.
My friend and I had debated this issue before. Finally, in this conversation he said, "Here's what I'm concerned about. What happens to me when I don't forgive?" This time his words struck me. Beyond my clinging to any proof text, his words spoke to my soul.
My journey included prayer, self-reflection, sharing my journey with others, and my desire to be freed from re-living these nightmares of my past. Above all, I trusted our God of love and forgiveness to go with me, no matter how arduous my journey.
Weeks passed into months. Slowly my intense anger began to cool. Finally, after more than two years, a day came when I realized I no longer bore ill will toward my father. With God's help, I had forgiven him!
I still considered his actions to be wrong. But even so, what a difference! After all those years of simmering anger, I had come to a place where I felt a real sense of peace with my father's memory--and myself! This experience touched my life and faith deeply..... Dr. Douglas Showalter

Lenten Action

Forgive one who has betrayed you and ask forgiveness from one you have betrayed.

Prayer

O Lord, the hour of your favor draws near, the day of your mercy and our salvation - when death was destroyed and eternal life began. We acknowledge our sins and our offenses are always before us. Blot out all our wrongdoings and give us a new and steadfast spirit. Restore us to your friendship and number us among the living who share the joy of your Son's risen life.

Gracious Saint Joseph,
protect me and my family from all evil as you did the Holy Family. Kindly keep us ever united in the love of Christ, ever fervent in imitation of the virtue of our Blessed Lady, your sinless spouse, and always faithful in devotion to you. Amen.

Wednesday, March 22th

"Take care...not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen." (Deuteronomy 4:9)

Reflection

The experience of the Father's love urges Christians to give of themselves to others, obeying a logic of service and solidarity in openness to their brothers and sisters. The arenas in which the Church through the centuries has borne witness to God's love in her word and action are vast.
Still today we see immense areas in which the work of Christians must bring to bear the charity of God. New forms of poverty and the pressing questions which trouble many hearts await a concrete and appropriate response. Those who are lonely, those on the margins of society, the hungry, the victims of violence, those who have no hope must be able to experience, in the Church's loving care, the tenderness of the Heavenly Father who, from the very beginning of the world, has kept every individual in mind in order to fill each one with his blessings. .... Pope John Paul II

Lenten Action

Do an unnecessary act of love today, remembering God's love for you.

Prayer

Give me a perfect heart to receive your work, that I may bring forth fruit in patience.

Thursday, March 23th

"If it is by the finger of God that I cast out devils, then the reign of God is upon you." (Luke 11:20)

Reflection

-- The Beautiful Hands of a Priest--
We need them in life's early morning,
We need them again at its close;
We feel their warm clasp of true friendship,
We seek them when tasting life's woes.
At the altar each day we behold them,
And the hands of a king on his throne
Are not equal to them in their greatness;
Their dignity stands all alone;
And when we are tempted and wander,
To pathways of shame and of sin,
It's the hand of a priest that will absolve us--
Not once, but again and again.
And when we are taking life's partner,
Other hands may prepare us a feast,
But the hand that will bless and unite us--
Is the beautiful hand of a priest.
God bless them and keep them all holy,
For the Host which their fingers caress;
When can a poor sinner do better,
Than to ask Him to guide thee and bless?
When the hour of death comes upon us,
May our courage and strength be increased,
By seeing raised over us in blessing--
The beautiful hands of a priest.

Lenten Action

Invite a non-practicing friend back to Mass with you

Prayer

O God, you sent your Son, Jesus, to bring eternal life to those who believe. I join him in praying for laborers for your harvest. May your Holy Spirit inspire men and women to continue his mission through your priesthood, diaconate, religious life and lay ministry. May this same Spirit make known your will for my life.

Friday, March 24th

The Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence from meat.
"You shall love the Lord your God." (Mark 12:30)

Reflection

Since my longing for martyrdom was powerful and unsettling, I turned to the epistles of Saint Paul in the hope of finally finding an answer. By chance the twelfth and thirteenth chapters of the first epistle to the Corinthians caught my attention, and in the first section I read that not everyone can be an apostle, prophet or teacher, that the Church is composed of a variety of members, and that the eye cannot be the hand. Even with such an answer revealed before me, I was not satisfied and did not find peace.
I persevered in the reading and did not let my mind wander until I found this encouraging theme: "Set your desires on the greater gifts. And I will now show you the way which surpasses all others." For the Apostle insists that the greater gifts are nothing at all without love and that this same love is surely the best path leading directly to God. At length I had found peace of mind.
Love appeared to me to be the hinge for my vocation. Indeed, I knew that the Church had a body composed of various members, but in this body the necessary and more noble member was not lacking; I knew that the Church had a heart and that such a heart appeared to be aflame with love. I knew that one love drove the members of the Church to action, that if this love were extinguished, the apostles would have proclaimed the Gospel no longer, the martyrs would have shed their blood no more. I saw and realized that love sets off the bounds of all vocations, that love is everything, that this same love embraces every time and every place. In one word, that love is everlasting. .. Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus

Lenten Action

A diet of amoral and immoral programs can and will corrupt your values. Do you control the media you watch and listen to?

Prayer

O my God, I love you above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because you are all good and worthy of all my love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of you. I forgive all who have injured me and I ask pardon of all whom I have injured.

Saturday, March 25th

"O God, be merciful to me a sinner!" (Luke 18:13)

Reflection

A friend has been drinking. Foolishly we get into the car with him, and he has an accident in which we are hurt. We eventually forgive our friend for his share of the responsibility in the accident. Another day comes when our friend is drinking again. He insists that we get in the car with him. Remembering our past injury, we refuse. But because we have not forgotten, our friend insists that we have not truly forgiven at all. In fact, we have forgiven. But, we have also learned from our painful past experience, and choose not to repeat it.

Suppose one has forgiven an injury and experienced reconciliation with the injurer--a process of two distinct stages. In such situations, it is not helpful to repeatedly bring our remembrance of the injury into the relationship. Discretion and a willingness to let the past be the past are called for, for the sake of the relationship--call this a type of "forgetting" if you will.

Lenten Action

Reflect on your life with God.

Prayer

Have mercy on me, O God. (Psalm 51)