Lent 2015

"So, if we’re going to fast from anything this Lent, Pope Francis suggests that even more than candy or alcohol, we fast from indifference towards others. In his annual Lenten message, the pope writes, 'Indifference to our neighbor and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.'" - Time Magazine

Two current movies with Lenten themes:

In advance of the Academy Awards on Sunday, vote:

Here's another reflection series for Lent.  These are from the writings of St. Augustine.

God, who created me
and continues to love me into being,
give me today a heroic heart like that of Ignatius.
Give me a spirit that desires the big gesture of love for you.
A spirit that might start with surrendering
whatever is the superficial sign of my identity
and will end with a complete gift of self.
Help me to find you
even in the emptiness that I create for you,
knowing that when I give up myself
it is only to make room for Christ
to live in me more fully each day.
- Igniting Our Values, 2/28/15

The theme for the week is PRAY

Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.
: Marian Wright Edelman

The laborers in the Lord’s vineyard should have one foot on the ground, and the other raised to proceed on their journey.
: Ignatius Loyola

Faith without works is not faith at all, but a simple lack of obedience to God.
-  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Christ, who came on earth to teach the ways of sanctity and prayer, could have surrounded himself with ascetics who starved themselves to death and terrified the people with strange antics. But his apostles were workers, fishers, publicans who made themselves conspicuous only by their disregard for most of the intricate network of devotions, ceremonial practices and moral gymnastics of the professionally holy. The surest asceticism is the bitter insecurity and labor of the poor.
- Thomas Merton

Jesus proclaims “Good News to the poor." What is this Good News? Ask the poor — you will get clear and immediate answers: health, shelter, food, opportunity, jobs, education…
- Dean Brackley, SJ

We have created a 'disposable' culture, which is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. This culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us. In this system, which tends to devour everything that stands in the way of increased profits; whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market.
: Pope Francis

Lent is a journey of evolving, creative reflection that inspires penance and gives new impetus to every aspect of our commitment to follow the Gospel. It is a journey of love, which opens the hearts of believers to our brothers and sisters and draws them to God. Jesus asks his disciples to live and to radiate charity; this new commandment of love represents the authoritative summation of the Decalogue entrusted by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. Each day we encounter people who are hungry, thirsty or sick, people who are outcasts or migrants. During this season of Lent we are invited to pay greater heed to the suffering written on their faces, faces which challenge us to acknowledge the various aspects of poverty that continue in our time.
: Saint John Paul II

I speak to you as a member of your large, loving,
complicated family;
I speak with you as I would to an older brother
who knows exactly what our family is about.
From that place,
give me the ability to love the world as my family,
give me the chance to serve them with the gifts I bring
and not fixate on what I don’t have,
what I can’t give.
Give me ways into the community that surrounds me;
help me to give to them
so I can receive all from you.

As I watch my priest lay the communion table for the gathered believers, I remember why eating attentively is worth all the effort: The table is not only a place where we can become present to God. The table is also a place where He becomes present to us.
: Lauren F. Winner

I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.
: Robert Fulghum

Jesus’ message is that the Kingdom of God is at hand. It is a call to create a loving society. Contemporary Christianity’s overwhelming focus on individual salvation is a corruption of Jesus’ message.
: Dean Brackley, SJ

I see clearly that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds ... And you have to start from the ground up.
: Pope Francis

The story of Nuestra Senora de Lujan

A deeply moving video from today's "Igniting Our Values"

In John’s Gospel, the crowd wonders, “The Christ will not come from Galilee, will he?” Isn’t it like us to question how God may choose
to work?
Today, the question may be more along the lines of: “Can God really speak through ______?” Fill in the blank with persons or things that may cause you to miss God’s active work before you.
Maybe it is suffering? Conflict? A weakness? An atheist? Someone’s sexual orientation? A Republican…or Democrat? An illegal immigrant?
An addict?
While the blank may be filled differently, the simple answer to that question and the crowd’s is: “Yes. God will and God does.”
Despite knowing this, I still fail to recognize the Christ before me, especially when I hold too closely to attitudes, prejudices, or ignorance.
When this happens, I think too small and miss my opportunities for conversion and transformation by a God of surprises who is alive and active in all things.
God, help me to humbly move beyond myself, better understand your ways are not mine, and recognize your presence before me.
How might you be called to expand your view of how God may be working in and through a situation, person, or people in your life?
—Andy Rebollar serves as Pastoral Associate for Parish Life at St. Pius X Parish, Grandville, MI.

It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view. The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts; it is beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is the Lord’s work…We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the Master Builder and the worker. We are workers, but not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future that is not our own.
—Words attributed to Archbishop Oscar Romero

Today, March 24 is the 35th anniversary of the martyrdom of the soon-to-be canonized
Archbishop Oscar Romero.
From his last homily on
March 14, 1980:

"The great task of Christians must be to absorb the spirit of God's kingdom and, with souls filled with the kingdom of God, to work on the projects of history. It's fine to be organized in popular groups; it's all right to form political parties; it's all right to take part in the government. It's fine as long as you are a christian who carries the reflection of the kingdom of God and tries to establish it where you are working, and as long as you are not being used to further worldly ambitions. This is the great duty of the people of today. My dear Christians, I have always told you, and I will repeat, that the true liberators of our people must come from us Christians, from the people of God."

An amazing five minutes of bliss....

It is not some religious act that makes a Christian what he or she is, but being caught up in the messianic suffering of God through Christ. The woman who anoints Christ’s feet with oil does so without any specific confession of sin. The Centurion of Canaan doesn’t confess his sins, he acts on faith, and Christ holds him up as a model. A religious act is always partial; an act springing from faith is always whole, because it involves the whole life.
: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Even more surprising than Jesus’ preferential option for the poor is God’s preferential option for the sinner. By choosing to walk with sinners before they ask for forgiveness, Jesus entirely rejects the notion of earning or meriting God’s love.
Dean Brackley, SJ

Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer