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Monday, February 29, 2016

February 29 - Monday of the Third Week of Lent

Resistance and Acceptance

In the gospel, the Nazarene refuses to believe in Jesus and rejects him. Many times in our lives we choose not to accept Jesus and resist Him. What changes are we making in our Lenten journey? Are we accepting and embracing His teachings or we do we continue to resist him?

Michele P.
A young adult leader who helps coordinate social and spiritual events for our young adult community.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

One Word at a Time - Teach

February 28 - Third Sunday of Lent

Repent for the Lord is Kind and Merciful

We are always asked to acknowledge our sins particularly in the season of Lent. In today’s Gospel, Jesus urges with us to repent otherwise we will perish. Acknowledgment of our sins and repentance is a key to our salvation. But “repent or perish” seem so harsh as the choices are so stark and foreboding. There seems no wiggle room. Tough love as one could say. 

But the parable of the fig tree gives me hope that the choice isn’t as stark as I thought and that God is merciful. In this parable, I can see that, though I am the barren fig tree, God wants to nurture and care for me, so that I will become the person I am meant to be. God, as our gardener, sees my potential and doesn’t give up me. He gives me the nutrients I need; he may prune my branches to help me become bigger and stronger. By responding to His patience and mercy, I can change and become the best version of myself.

In this season of Lent and Year of Mercy, how have we turned to God? How have we asked Him to nurture and cultivate us to be like the great fig trees?


Saturday, February 27, 2016

February 27 - Saturday of the Second Week of Lent

The Prodigal Son
This Gospel reading provides an observation on the nature of our sinfulness, the mercy of our heavenly Father in light of that sinfulness, and the beauty we encounter when we finally come home to God’s mercy. 

The story has three main characters, all of whom we can relate to at one time or another in our lives. One wants forgiveness, another wants to give it and the third begrudges that his father’s forgiveness is so easily given. 

The father has been horribly wronged by his youngest son. When the son returns home begging forgiveness, the story describes the unconditional love of the father, how complete his forgiveness of his son is, and how liberating that forgiveness can be. Just like our heavenly father who loves us unconditionally with a love we can never be worthy of. God doesn’t give up hope when we stray, he truly rejoices in finding us and leading us home. Are you like the father, are you able to give without wanting anything in return and love without putting any conditions on your love? Can you still love someone who turns their back on you and forgive them?

The older son complained that he hasn’t gotten the proper recognition from his father for all he has done. If we’re honest, we’ve all felt like the older brother at some point in our lives. How many times have you been jealous, envious, and/or angry because God gave someone else what we thought we deserved? Are there times when we’ve preferred to wallow in our anger and grief rather than forgive and move on?

Finally we have the younger son, the sinner, the wastrel, whose life evolves into a pathetic state due to his selfishness. He’s an example of what happens when we turn away from the love of God in our lives. When he reaches rock bottom he repents and is given a clean slate by the father. Through repentance he gets a second chance and the duty to become a new man and forget his evil ways. All of us have sinned and offended God at one time or another and God has forgiven us through the sacrament of Penance. Do you know the joy of repentance and the restoration of your relationship with God? Have you ever experienced this kind of mercy? Have you ever shown it? Is there someone in your life who might be liberated and lifted up if you showed him/her a taste of mercy?

Reflection by Kathy M, Member Faith Formation Commission, Wednesday evening Bible study and liturgical minister

Friday, February 26, 2016

February 26 - Friday of the Second Week of Lent

God’s Messenger

Joseph, “the master dreamer!” was his father’s favorite son. He stirred jealousy in his brothers to the point of them planning his murder; they eventually sell him into slavery. The brothers did not try to find within themselves their own value. Instead of accepting Joseph’s prophesies they chose to envy him.

In the parable of landowner who can’t collect produce from the tenants, the servants sent to collect payment are rejected, hurt, or killed. The tenants also kill the landowner’s son. The message brought to them by each servant and eventually by the son is contrary to the reality they have chosen to establish for themselves.

In both the case of Joseph and the landowner we encounter groups that are resistant to a message that is being given to them. Joseph is symbolic of God’s truth. The landowner is God who sent his only begotten son.

When you encounter God’s truth, how do you respond? Are you like the brothers? Are you like the tenants of the vineyard? How do encounter God’s truth in your life?

Crispina Ojeda-Simmons

Thursday, February 25, 2016

February 25 - Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

Who will you meet on your path today?

Be sure to be alert to those you meet along the way, pay attention to those one time encounters or those in your midst daily. These gems can fuel the path to eternal life. Today’s readings offer Jeremiah’s insights into the human heart and Luke’s Gospel, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. In both, it is clear that our human hearts must be transformed and our understanding deepened in order to find our way. Recognize the gift, the person you meet along the path seemingly in more need than yourself. But as it turns out, we need this person more. This person is the gift that leads to salvation.

“More tortuous than all else is the human heart,” Jeremiah 17:5-10

Our human nature is a troubling thing- longing and fragile; seeking satisfaction; seeking gratification and recognition; continually looking for more to prove our worth. The distance between our understanding and our hearts may be grand, but the readings offer comfort only in that there is an answer, a way to salvation. 

Luke’s parable story is of the rich man eating sumptuously, and wearing fine linens and a poor man, Lazarus, lying at his door step hungry, and covered with sores. The lesson learned is the inability of the rich man to show mercy upon Lazarus. So, when the rich man dies he is in agony while the poor man is comforted by the angels and carried to heaven. 

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is in the Lord. He is like a tree planted beside the waters, that stretches out its roots to the stream.” Jeremiah 17:5-10

Responding to the needs of others, be it…time…shelter….food or clothing are true virtues. During Lent we are repeatedly reminded of the importance of prayer, fasting and almsgiving-not empty gestures -but those filled with Love and Mercy, a gift of God’s grace. Pray for that grace, as it transforms our hearts and awakens our minds to recognize those we meet. 

What is this saving Love? 

A circle of love, an image that we are all connected- an act of kindness is shared, a heart of mercy is won, rewarded by our heavenly Father with the gift of eternal life for the mercy bestowed.

How will you embrace the gifts that come your way today? 

Reflection by J. Yacopino
A parish member of Holy Name Cathedral for many years, active in the Faith Formation Commission, serves as an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist and participates in RCIA program as a sponsor.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

February 24 - Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent

Taking Up Our Cross

Today’s scriptures offer instructions on how to follow Jesus. In the reading from Jeremiah, he pleads to God for help against his adversaries. This reading is mirrored in the Gospel, where Jesus prepares to be taken away and crucified. Jesus has adversaries, too, and his response is to adhere to God to the point of death for our sins. He diminishes the concept of worldly power and instructs his disciples to remain service-oriented by reminding them, “Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

By example, Jesus teaches us in dark times to carry our cross, and just as he overcame sin and death, we can share in his glory, too.

Are you taking up your cross with Jesus? Which Bible passages encourage you and give you strength in your journey?

Reflection by Annie Syrowski
A Faith Formation Commission member and Minister of Care

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Resources from the Evening of Reflection

For those who attended the Evening of Reflection on Thursday, February 18, you may be interested in some of the resources that Julie Berggren referenced in her presentation:

Ignatian Resources

A Simple Life Changing Prayer: Jim Manney

The Examen Prayer: Timothy Gallagher, OMV

Inner Compass: Margaret Silf

Just Call Me Lopez: Margaret Silf (fiction)

Spiritual Exercises and Selected Works by Ignatius of Loyola, Edward J. Malatesta (Western Spirituality Classics)

Poem: “As I drive home on a narrow curving road…” by Patricia A. Lunetta

French philosopher Gustave Thibon wrote: Do not run or fly away in order to become free. Rather, go deeply into the narrow space given you. There you will find God in all things.

February 23 - Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent

Habits & Purity of Heart

My name is Nicole Cancel and I am a young adult at Holy Name Cathedral. I have been attending since this past June, and have partaken in the Young Adult group since. The trickiest thing about moving to a new area, is developing a new routine. Not just any routine but a prayer routine. Sometimes when we practice faith, pursuing Christ through things like prayer, the rosary, and mass can become a checklist of things to do. You go to mass on Sunday because… its Sunday. Or you pray before bed because it’s a habit. Sometimes you even begin to pull away from prayer or mass because of the fact that it has become just a routine. When we practice our faith in our daily life, what are we doing it for? Who are we doing it for? In today’s reading, Matthew 23:1-12, there is a distinct difference between the Pharisees and Jesus’s disciples. The Pharisees are in a habit of doing prayer, and doing it in public. To the world they may seem like the holiest people. However, no matter how we look to the world, even to our family and priest, God can see our hearts… and this is what he focuses on. The disciples are humbly listening and literally following Jesus everywhere. They ask questions and are willing to learn. If you look into the hearts of the Pharisees and the disciples, the Pharisees are prideful of their prayer. Pride comes into our hearts when we let our thoughts and the thoughts of others become more important than that of God. The disciples, however, are so focused on following Christ that their hearts are formed in humble submission. If there is one thing I get from this passage it is this: purity of heart. Christ cares more about our purity of heart more than the sins of our past. Are we going to mass out of routine or for Him? Are we praying because we are just looking for something out of it, or do we want to converse with our Father? Even if we notice the pride lurking in our heart, because we all have it, do we openly tell God that we want to desire to become more purely in love with Him?

Lent is a special time to get closer to Christ, so our observances and our penances should be done with the purity of heart to only desire him through this process. 
  1. What Lenten penances did you choose, and how can you observe them with a greater purity of heart? 
  2. Do you talk to God about the things holding you back from pursuing Him deeper? What do you say to Him when you pray?
  3. What are your motivations for going to church every Sunday?

Monday, February 22, 2016

February 22 - Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle

Natural resources bring us closer to Christ

In Jim Manney’s book, “An Ignatian Book of Days”, the author encourages us today to use natural resources to bring others to Christ. I thought of what happened in the past week with a student teacher. He was really working hard to enjoin peace in his department. He encouraged and cajoled the people in the department to work collaboratively. He found the best in every teacher he worked with. Still nothing was working. I gave him some candies for Valentine’s Day. In the lunchroom he purposely shared the resource of candy to certain people who were having a hard time collaborating. It was the first time they shared goodies with each other. Somehow God’s grace was attached to the candies as the afternoon was filled with ways they could share information about the subject matter with each other. The candy led them to find Christ in each other and to share their skills in order to make their teaching better. Christ’s presence seems to have a domino effect.

What resources do we use to bring Christ to others? Is it the food of hospitality? Is it our car that offers a person a ride? Is it a cup of coffee with a friend? Is it the coat, clothing or shoes we give to Catholic Charities when we’d really like to hang onto them? Is it a book that led us to praise and thank God more? These resources can be transformative. Let’s see how we can assist Christ in transforming our lives and the lives of others by using the natural resources of our everyday lives.

Reflection by Professor Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D
Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, Faith Formation, RCIA team member, Lector, and facilitates Mercy in the City with RCIA folks

Sunday, February 21, 2016

One Word at a Time - Forgive

February 21 - The Second Sunday of Lent

A Call to Conversion of Life and Witness to the Truth

Every year on the 2nd Sunday of Lent the Gospel reading recounts what is called the Transfiguration of Christ, the culminating event of Jesus’ public life, as His Baptism is its starting point, and His Ascension its end.

The word “transfiguration” comes from the Latin “trans,” which means “across,” and “figura” which means “form” or “shape.” It signifies a change of appearance, and this is exactly what happened to Jesus; His appearance changed and became glorious. It is a proclamation of the divinity of Jesus.

The description of the transfiguration is reported in all three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke). It is intended for all of us, not just Peter, James and John as we hear in today’s Gospel from Luke. We are called a conversion of life and witness to God’s message. This is what Lent should be for all of us.

St. Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican priest and Doctor of the Church, writes, “At His Transfiguration Christ showed His disciples the splendor of His beauty, to which He will shape and color those who are His.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “Christ, Head of the Church, manifests what His Body contains and radiates the sacraments, ‘the hopes of glory.’”)CCC 568)

This is what Lent should be about for us, grasping the hope offered by Christ!

Reflection by Nick O’Hearn
Co-Chair, Faith Formation Commission; RCIA team member; Usher

Saturday, February 20, 2016

February 20 - Saturday of the First Week of Lent

A New Commandment

This is one of my favorite passages in the Gospel, as I feel that, by observing its commandment, we can truly embody Christ. Of course, loving our enemies is one of the most difficult things we are asked to do. Once again, Deuteronomy sets up the idea of "old" laws written during the time of Moses, and Jesus tells us in the passage from Matthew that we must go even further if we are to receive God's grace. 

  1. Why is it difficult to love our enemies?
  2. Why is it important to love our enemies? 
  3. How can Jesus call us to heavenly perfection when He knows we cannot attain that as human beings? 
Reflection by Elizabeth Mitchell

Friday, February 19, 2016

February 19 - Friday of the First Week of Lent

The Righteous Path

The Lord sets a high bar for us in these passages. In Ezekiel, we are told that God is more likely to forgive a sinful man who turns to righteousness than a righteous man who slips into sin, a clear call to turn away from sin. As in many Gospel readings, in Matthew, Jesus expands upon the laws of the Old Testament. Rather than simply refraining from killing, for example, we must also refrain from anger towards our brothers. 

  1. How does the idea of dying from sins committed as presented in Ezekiel fit with what we know about God's mercy?
  2. Why does Jesus tell us to settle anger before bringing gifts to the altar?
Reflection by Elizabeth Mitchell

Thursday, February 18, 2016

February 18 - Thursday of the First Week of Lent

What Are You Seeking? 

Two friends attend a conference. Later, they realize that the speaker said some really important things and they both decide to summarize the most important points. Now, they are two different people, with different experiences, different passions and different concerns. A few years later, we find their notes. Are we surprised that there might be a few distinctions in what the two remembered and wrote down - what stuck in each of their minds? Are we surprised that one point might have resonated more with one, whereas that point might have been clearly understood by the other who did not feel the need to emphasize it because he knew what his notes meant? Let's compare Matthew 7:7-12 with Luke 11:9-13. The first part (ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you) is identical. Then the examples given differ slightly. (Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asked for a loaf of bread vs. hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?) Maybe Jesus gave several examples and they each wrote down two. Now comes the biggest distinction, for me. In today's reading it says that the Father will give "good things" to those who ask him. Some apparently translate that to mean a 3-car garage.... Yet Luke records this as saying that the Father in heaven will give "the Holy Spirit" to those who ask him. Pretty big difference if you were relying on this verse from Matthew to win the lottery... Perhaps the "good things" Matthew was referring to are the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. I'm sure Matthew would have considered those to be "good things." What have you been seeking? Good "things" or the Holy Spirit?

Reflection by Linda Weaver
Minister of Care, Lector, and Eucharistic minister

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

February 17 - Wednesday of the First Week of Lent

A Greater Calling
Today's Readings

The story of Jonah is one of the most fascinating stories in the Old Testament. It has so many entertaining twists and turns and supernatural elements. But beyond these elements we find elements of Truth, of the calls in our lives.

The story starts with a call, the Word of God calling Jonah to preach conversion to Nineveh, one of the largest cities in the world at the moment; Jonah finds this call so difficult and impossible that he runs away as far as he can from the mission. All our Christian lives begin with a Call from God, and we are continuously called to be better, to choose the path of greater love. Many times, that path may seem to us as hard and impossible as it was to Jonah, and we may feel tempted to run away too.

But the story, as per today's reading, continues with a great twist. After time in the whale in solitude and reflection, the whale takes Jonah to a place close to Nineveh. Jonah goes there and to this surprise the people of Nineveh believe him; they fast and repent. When we decide to take the path of love which is usually the difficult path and we collaborate with God, great things can come to our lives and the lives of others around us.

Lent is the perfect time to look for ways to be better, to listen to the higher call. We pray and fast because these actions can help our minds and wills to be ready to take the difficult path that the Christian live requires from us.

In what way are you being called to the Nineveh in your life, both during Lent and beyond?

Reflection by Flor Delgado
A member of the Young Adult Board

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

February 16 - Tuesday of the First Week of Lent


In today’s reading we are presented to God’s essence of pure being. His word is at cause on multiple levels of existence and time has no bearing on the outcome. It is God’s will that is ultimately fulfilled. It makes one wonder, what causes us to detach from our Creator. On further reflection, Jesus helps us answer this question, by teaching us how to pray. What actions to take, to remain connected to God. It is the act of forgiveness that allows us to be heard and remain centered to our Creator. 

In response to today’s reading. What actions can I take today that will allow forgiveness in my life? What can you give up in order to allow forgiveness to exist in your life? Perhaps, it is pride, point of view or pain within, that veils forgiveness within you. We can also address our listening of others, not from a space of judgment but from the space of getting what they have to say.

Reflection by: J.G.G.

Monday, February 15, 2016

February 15 - Monday of the First Week of Lent

‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

When we think of Lent, the first thing that comes to mind is, “What are we going to give up this year?” Maybe it’s social media, music, or some type of food. However, how often do we meditate on why are giving up things we find enjoyable? Although the things we give up are not sinful, they can keep us more attached to this world than attached to Christ. It can be more difficult than ever to make room for Christ in our life, with the busyness of adulthood and the city. That is why Lent is a beautiful season to recommit. Recommit to a sacrificing, recommit to the sacraments, and recommit to renewing our relationship with Jesus Christ…our God… also our best friend. He is not just our God, but he is Lord over all we encounter everyday! Your boss, your best friend, the person you rode the subway with today… they are all sons and daughters of the Triune God. As Christians, it is our responsibility to use this time of Lent not just to recommit ourselves to Christ, but lets use this as an opportunity to share Christ with others. The Christian life is not meant just for ourselves. It is meant for all sons and daughters of God. Many are not born with the privilege of growing up in a Christian home, or having received catechesis to understand whom Jesus is. 

Whenever you sacrifice something for God, for His sake (and not your own), your heart will be pulled closer to His. If you encounter a 200 hundred people everyday, that is 200 opportunities for sons and daughters of God to come face to face with him… through you! 

Recommit yourself to the Triune God through your sacrifice and the sacraments this Lenten season. It is not just for your relationship with God, but for the entire body of Christ!

  1. What do you plan on sacrificing this Lent, and how will it bring you closer to Christ?
  2. How often do you receive the sacraments, and is there room for a greater commitment to mass and confession?
  3. How can you share your faith through your daily actions?
  4. Do you love others, in your life, with a purity of heart? Even those you do not care for? 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

February 14 - First Sunday of Lent

Desert Does Not Mean Deserted
Today's Readings

I often ask myself why Jesus would go to a desert place. Why experience loneliness and the devils temptations regarding God's plan? We all hear these voices of defeat; they judge others and are most critical of ourselves. We are alone, there is no one that can help us, we are lost in the sandstorm. Jesus knew this to be lies; he took this dangerous journey with each of our names and faces in his heart and he succeeded. His victory doesn't mean we will not experience the desert again. We should never forget that Jesus is our compass. When we are in that desert always look around for other fellow travelers. Remember we hold the compass in our hearts.

Reflection by Frances Cifuentes
Frances is in RCIA and will receive the sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation at the Easter Vigil Mass

One Word at a Time - Counsel

Saturday, February 13, 2016

February 13 - Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Making Room for God

When we’re upset, it’s easier to lash out than bite our tongues. If our to-do lists are long, it’s counter-intuitive to slow down. In today’s scriptures, God asks us to live differently. He asks that we remove false accusations and malicious speech, and that we honor Him on the Sabbath by holding back on our own pursuits for that day. In return, He promises renewed strength, nourishment, and fulfillment.

In the Gospel when the tax collectors, or sinners, make room for Jesus at their table, he sits with them. When we hit pause on our inner dialogue of all the things we need to do every day, Jesus uses the opportunity to “sit at our table,” to be with us in the space we have created for him. He then can guide us through our words and actions, providing strength and restoring peace.

Does it feel counter-intuitive to slow down when life is speeding up? Do you allow Jesus the opportunity to help?

Reflection by Annie Syrowski

Friday, February 12, 2016

February 12 - Friday after Ash Wednesday

A Heart So Full

As a Catholic newbie, each of today's perfectly-strung readings highlighted, and maybe helped answer, questions of mine about the Lenten practice of fasting. The obvious question: Why do/should we fast? But there is a question brought up here, to me, that is less obvious: What's the point, if your heart isn't invested in your fast? As many of us most likely are down to the wire on choosing what we are fasting from for Lent, we might ponder what is the easiest thing to abstain from. Okay, I'll let go of Netflix bingeing for Lent. Ah, no, House of Cards is coming soon... Maybe I'll try drinking. Sure. No more beers this Lenten season, Praise God the Superbowl is over... Wait, my friend's party is in March, what if there's alcohol... 

Maybe I am just over-complicating what it means to fast: Perhaps it isn't about what we can do without, but what we could do with more of: Filling up our hearts. But with what? Isaiah has some ideas: sharing with your neighbor or the homeless; those in need. Being more conscious of others' burdens, and doing what you can to help ease the oppressed. Reading and sharing in The Word of the Lord. Being a presence for those who may have no one... What might we fast that we might better have the ability to share with others? What can we do, that we may be seen by the Lord?

What if we are meant to feed our bodies less, and open our hearts to be filled more? Full to the brim, humble and seeking the Lord, eager for His return. Maybe Lent is less about the things we could or should do without, and more about clearing space for the Lord to shine through us. With our hearts so full, surely God's Love will spill over and bless others.

These are just my thoughts, but hey, I'm new here. And happy to be so.

As a candidate, Raina will be receiving the sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation at the Easter Vigil.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

February 11 - Thursday after Ash Wednesday

Take Up Your Cross
Today's Readings

Today is the second day of Lent; it is time for us to challenge ourselves into the true meaning of Lent. In the gospel Jesus teaches how arduous the path to follow His teachings is; one must deny himself and take up his cross daily. What do you choose to give up for Lent in order to truly follow Jesus? This might seem discouraging at first, but do not forget that Jesus has promised us that if you follow His commandments you will live in Him, as He lives in you.
Reflection by M.P.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

February 10 - Ash Wednesday

A Time for Reflection and Prayer

In the first reading at Mass today from the Book of the Prophet Joel we hear the prophet calling on the people of God to begin a time of fasting and penitence so that they will return to God. And so it is with us as we begin the season of Lent. We set our focus on a return to God’s grace by recalling the covenant we have with Him and by rededicating ourselves to live in that covenant relationship.

The ashes we receive today in the form of a cross on our foreheads stand as a common denominator for all of us. They symbolize human frailty, spiritual brokenness and the need for repentance and healing. Sin brings death and ashes.

In Catholic churches around the world, Lent begins by the reception of ashes made from the burning of last year’s palms.  The priest makes the sign of the cross with the ashes on the forehead of believers with the words, “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.” Ashes remind us of two things: our roots in the soil – (God fashioned Adam out of the dust of the earth) and that physical death comes to all of us, but through the power of the Cross we are reborn!

Lent is a special time for us to prepare spiritually for the great celebration of our redemption, the Feast of Easter. We do this by prayer, fasting, penance, sacrifice and doing good works for others.

Reflection by: Nick O’Hearn

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Lent Is Near - Almsgiving


Almsgiving seems to be an archaic word. Contemporary, casual conversation likely does not make use of the word. This can make it all the easier for us to brush this pillar of Lent off as the least important, or even one to turn a blind eye toward. Yet in this Year of Mercy, almsgiving takes on even more significance than usual.

Almsgiving asks us what we are offering to those in need. What are we offering those who are in need of the basics of living – food, shelter, safety, education, health care, safety? What are we offering to those who suffer in mind and heart – those with mental illnesses, those who are lonely, those who are grieving? What are we offering not only financially with donations and handouts, but with our time and talent? 

Almsgiving reminds us that we need to live the works of mercy in our daily lives. The works of mercy are more than simply serving the poor or providing a social service. The works of mercy mean we encounter Christ in the other, affirm their humanity, and serve their needs. The works of mercy push us to see God in the individuals and situations that make us uncomfortable. They remind us that we need to respond charitably and with love to the challenges of daily life and the needs of others.

How can you give of your time and gifts this Lent? How can you be more loving and charitable to those in your life?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Lent Is Near - Prayer


Another pillar of Lent, comes in so many forms. At its root, prayer is a conversation with God. Like any relationship, communication is key. Prayer draws us closer to God and allows the time and space for God to work in our hearts.

During Lent, you are encouraged to pray more than usual. This may mean that you add, for the first time, five minutes of prayer time to your day. Perhaps you might consider adding in one or two weekday Masses. Perhaps it might be attending the Evenings of Reflection on February 18 or March 15. Perhaps it might be lighting a candle and praying for the individuals who will be baptized, receive first Eucharist, and be confirmed at the Easter vigil.

There are countless ways to pray. If you wait to find time to pray, the search is often fruitless. Like anything else, we need to make the time to pray. Set aside a concrete block of time daily that you can spend in prayer. You may find it helpful to have a partner, a friend or significant other, who can help hold you accountable to your prayer time and your other Lenten practices. They can also be a source of support and encouragement.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Lent Is Near!

Drawing Near

Lent is quickly approaching. In fact, we are just a week away. Are you ready?

It seems that Lent often catches us off guard, particularly when it begins as early as it does this year. Have you started to think about how you will embrace the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and alms-giving? I encourage you to take time in the next week to reflect on the things that pull you further away from God – do you lose hours on end binge watching the latest show online? Do have such a busy schedule that there is no time for prayer or reflection? Do you have a guilty pleasure that you spend too much time with? These sorts of questions that cause us to reflect on where we spend our minutes, hours, and days can quickly lead us to better understand what might be fruitful to give up for Lent. Perhaps it is letting go of our online TV watching or changing our commitments so we have time to enter into prayer and to take care of ourselves. 

Lent is an opportunity to draw closer to God, to encounter his mercy. Where is God calling to you? What might you be able to offer up as a sacrifice to grow in your relationship to God?