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Receiving the Gospel, Serving God and Neighbor
Prayer, FASTING, and Almsgiving
“"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they
disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting.
I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.” (Matthew 6:16)
The three tools to truly change this Lent are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Fasting must often be added to prayer.
When he entered the house, his disciples asked him in private, "Why could we not drive it (the demon) out?"
He said to them, "This kind can only come out through prayer and fasting." Mark 9:28-29
Food is the most primordial drives of the human being. If food is not available to someone, all other desires will be subordinated to it. So when one struggles with the sometimes disordered desires and passions of the human person, ordering the desire for food is one of the best places to start to gain strength to order the rest. We must master our passions or they master us.
Namely, fasting on bread and water at least once a week (a Wednesday or Friday is the best day) has been the practice along with prayer that have made saints and given countless people mastery over unruly passions (i.e. vices, bad habits, etc.). One can also fast by not eating in-between meals or saying no to sweets. Try this ‘hammer of the spiritual life’ and you will not be disappointed!
Peace and prayers in Jesus through Mary, loved by Saint Joseph,
P.S. This coming Sunday is the Second Sunday of Lent. The readings can be found at: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/030523.cfm
“I grew up Catholic, but fell away from my faith and became fascinated with secular meditation. Something, though, was always missing. It felt like I was being pulled towards something spiritual, something more. So I started asking everyone if there was any sort of intersection between meditation and faith, and what I found changed my life.” -Alex Jones, Founder of Hallow
The Hallow app offers many ways to deepen your prayer life, such as:
-Pray with the reading from the daily Gospel each morning in just 5, 10, or 15 minutes (you choose the length)
-Fall asleep with Bible sleep stories from Fr. Mike Schmitz, Jonathan Roumie, or various Scripture readings by guest readers.
-Meditate with the daily Rosary or many other prayers on your way to work, with your morning coffee, or as you go about your day
-Try praying with music, hearing the Bible in a Year podcast, and much, much more!
Some features include:
-Listen on the way to work, on a plane, in the morning, or at night with downloadable offline sessions and customized lengths anywhere from 1, 5, 10, 15, 30, or 60 minute options!
-Personalize your prayer experience. Choose your guide, length, background music like Gregorian chant, set your favorites, journal, and create your own personal prayer plan.
Go to this link to set up an account on the Hallow website or use the codes below:
After you have setup your account, download the app by searching for “Hallow Catholic” in the App Store or Google Play, sign in using the account you just created, and start praying!
Scan here to set up account Scan here for app on Android Scan here for app on iPhone
- to abstain from food for a time
[From the first century Christians have observed fasting days of precept, notably during the season of Lent in commemoration of Christ's passion and death. In the early Church there was less formal precept and therefore greater variety of custom, but in general fasting was much more severe than in the modern Church. In the East and West the faithful abstained on fasting days from wine as well as from flesh-meat, both being permitted only in cases of weak health. The ancient custom in the Latin Church of celebrating Mass in the evening during Lent was partly due to the fact that in many places the first meal was not taken before sunset.]
You cannot touch the water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of life. As a Bagpiper, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper's cemetery in the Nova Scotia back country.
As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and, being a typical man, I didn't stop for directions.
I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch. I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late. I went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place. I didn't know what else to do, so I started to play.
The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I've never played before for this homeless man. And as I played "Amazing Grace", the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together. When I finished, I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head was hung low, my heart was full.
As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, "I never seen nothing like that before and I've been putting in septic tanks for twenty years."
Apparently I'm still lost....it's a man thing.
“The New Law practices the acts of religion: almsgiving, prayer and fasting, directing them to the "Father who sees in secret," in contrast with the desire to "be seen by men." Its prayer is the Our Father.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church #1969
HUSBANDS FASTING FOR THEIR WIVES. The e5 Man fasts for his bride as a way to imitate Jesus as described by Saint Paul in his letter to the Ephesians, chapter 5 (for ...
Based on Ephesians chapter 5 these are Christian men (mostly Catholic) who are fasting for their loved ones, mainly their wives. They, like Christ, are laying down their lives by fasting for those they love and want to help get to heaven. I can personally testify to the power of doing this. I have also met the founder of this site and united action. Women may also sign up to have men fast for them to spiritual help them. Just do it!
The purpose of the app is “to let God hallow our lives, and to help others do the same.”
Debuting under the appropriate name of Hallow, this new app features 200 sessions of prayer in various categories of Christian prayer such as vocal prayer, mental prayer, Lectio Divina, contemplative prayer, the Examen, spiritual writing/journaling, Taizé and chant.
The app, suitable for iOS and Android, offers a choice of five-, 10- and 15-minute session and a male or female voice option. “Pray lists” offer themed content such as meditations on humility, which involves praying through the litany of humility. There are meditations based on the Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, and a “Daily Prayer” section that is based on the readings of the day.
“Hallow is a resource for all Christians who want to build a deeper relationship with God,” said the app’s co-creator, Alex Jones. “But if you look at the contents and teachings, we don’t want there to be any question that it’s Catholic.”
Jones, 25, from Palo Alto, is an engineering graduate from Notre Dame who was raised Catholic but ventured into a period of agnosticism after high school. His return to the faith came in stages, beginning toward the end of college when he began to intellectually re-engage with the faith. He credits good friends who were well-versed in theology and a philosophy course for “cracking open the door” of his heart and helping him to see that Jesus Christ was “maybe not just all myths and legends.”
He began using Headspace to pray but found the eastern style of meditation to be too focused on himself and not grounded enough in the faith. It was then that he realized the Church has been practicing meditation for thousands of years, which led to him exploring the Ignatian and other methods or Catholic prayer.
“The first time I tried Lectio Divina it brought tears to my eyes,” Jones said.
One day in prayer, the idea came to him – if Headspace and Calm can be so successful in teaching eastern meditation techniques to people, why can’t a Christian-based app do the same?
“The ideas was so obvious. It was like God hitting me over the head with it,” Jones recalled.
The first thing he did was call his friend, Erich Kerekes, 25, a fellow Notre Dame graduate with a degree in computer science. The two worked together at a consulting firm after graduation and often talked about how to make the faith a priority in their lives in spite of the hectic, secular lives they were living. They discussed the idea of a Christian prayer app and it took off from there.
They now have a team of six people with backgrounds ranging from theology to technology startups.
One member of their team, Alessandro DiSanto, who serves as the head of finance and strategic partnerships, grew up in a parish in Pennsylvania where the current bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, started out. The DiSantos were good friends with Bishop Rhoades and didn’t hesitate to contact him for help with their new idea. He was hugely supportive and is now one of their biggest fans.
“Hallow is an excellent resource for people searching for deeper spiritual lives, especially for the younger generation of Catholics today,” the bishop said. “It helps make it clear that a relationship with God is and can be extremely personal and can be a great source of peace, joy and strength.”
The team reached out to many people for help on the project, including Women of Grace’s New Age division, where they received help formulating authentic Catholic prayer sessions.
Others, such Lisa Hendey, founder of CatholicMom.com, have nothing but praise for the new app.
“In a world so filled with noise, confusion, and need, Hallow provides a greatly needed respite and a wonderful array of gifts to more deeply connect with the Divine,” Hendey said.
Mike St. Pierre, executive director of Catholic Campus Ministry Association, says this new app is “for anyone who feels they’ve been praying the same way for years, Hallow can completely renew the way that you interact with God on a daily basis.”
The app begins with a free trial and then starts at $8.99 per month for full access to the content. For each subscription purchased, the team pledges to give another away. Their goal is to provide Hallow for free to organizations in need, (e.g., faith immersion programs, retreats, Christian nonprofits).
The name of the app, Hallow, which means “to make holy” sums up precisely what this project aims to do, Jones says.
“To let God hallow our lives, and to help others do the same.”
What's the Point of Fasting, Anyway?
Washington D.C., Feb 23 (EWTN News/CNA)
God commanded it, Jesus practiced it, Church Fathers have preached the importance of it – fasting is a powerful and fundamental part of the Christian life.
But for many Catholics today, it's more of an afterthought: something we grudgingly do on Good Friday, perhaps on Ash Wednesday if remember it. Would we fast more, especially during Lent, if we understood how helpful it is for our lives?
The answer to this, say both saints of the past and experts today, is a resounding “yes.”
“Let us take for our standard and for our example those that have run the race, and have won,” said Deacon Sabatino Carnazzo, founding executive director of the Institute of Catholic Culture and a deacon at Holy Transfiguration Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Mclean, Va., of the saints.
“And...those that have run the race and won have been men and women of prayer and fasting.”
So what, in essence, is fasting?
It's “the deprivation of the good, in order to make a decision for a greater good,” explained Deacon Carnazzo. It is most commonly associated with abstention from food, although it can also take the form of giving up other goods like comforts and entertainment.
The current fasting obligation for Latin Catholics in the United States is this: all over the age of 14 must abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all Fridays in Lent. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, adults age 18 to 59 must fast – eating no more than one full meal and two smaller meals that together do not add up in quantity to the full meal.
Catholics, “if possible,” can continue the Good Friday fast through Holy Saturday until the Easter Vigil, the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference adds.
Other Fridays throughout the year (aside from Friday within the Octave of Easter) “are penitential days and times throughout the entire Church,” according to Canon Law 1250. Catholics once abstained from meat on all Fridays, but the U.S. bishops received permission from the Holy See for Catholics to substitute another sacrifice or perform an act of charity instead.
Eastern Rite Catholics, meanwhile, follow the fasting laws of their own particular church.
In their 1966 “Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence,” the National Conference of Catholic Bishops exhorted the faithful, on other days of Lent where fasting is not required, to “participation in daily Mass and a self-imposed observance of fasting.”
Aside from the stipulations, though, what's the point of fasting?
“The whole purpose of fasting is to put the created order and our spiritual life in a proper balance,” Deacon Carnazzo said.
As “bodily creatures in a post-fallen state,” it's easy to let our “lower passions” for physical goods supersede our higher intellect, he explained. We take good things for granted and reach for them whenever we feel like it, “without thinking, without reference to the One Who gives us the food, and without reference to the question of whether it’s good for us or not,” he added.
Thus, fasting helps “make more room for God in our life,” Monsignor Charles Pope, pastor of Holy Comforter/St. Cyprian Catholic Church in Washington, D.C. said.
“And the Lord said at the well, with the (Samaritan) woman, He said that 'everyone that drinks from this well is going to be thirsty again. Why don't you let me go to work in your life and I’ll give you a fountain welling up to Eternal Life.'”
While fasting can take many forms, is abstaining from food especially important?
“The reason why 2000 years of Christianity has said food (for fasting), because food's like air. It's like water, it's the most fundamental,” Deacon Carnazzo said. “And that's where the Church says 'stop right here, this fundamental level, and gain control there.' It's like the first step in the spiritual life.”
What the Bible says about it
Yet why is fasting so important in the life of the Church? And what are the roots of the practice in Scripture?
The very first fast was ordered by God to Adam in the Garden of Eden, Deacon Carnazzo noted, when God instructed Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17).
This divine prohibition was not because the tree was bad, the deacon clarified. It was “made good” like all creation, but its fruit was meant to be eaten “in the right time and the right way.” In the same way, we abstain from created goods so we may enjoy them “in the right time and the right way.”
Fasting is also good because it is submission to God, he said. By fasting from the fruit of the tree, Adam and Eve would have become partakers in the Divine Nature through their obedience to God. Instead, they tried to take this knowledge of good and evil for themselves and ate the fruit, disobeying God and bringing Original Sin, death, and illness upon mankind.
At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus abstained from food and water for 40 days and nights in the desert and thus “reversed what happened in the Garden of Eden,” Deacon Carnazzo explained. Like Adam and Eve, Christ was tempted by the devil but instead remained obedient to God the Father, reversing the disobedience of Adam and Eve and restoring our humanity.
Following the example of Jesus, Catholics are called to fast, said Fr. Lew. And the Church Fathers preached the importance of fasting.
Why fasting is so powerful
“The fast is the weapon of protection against demons,” taught St. Basil the Great. “Our Guardian Angels more really stay with those who have cleansed our souls through fasting.”
Why is fasting so powerful? “By setting aside this (created) realm where the devil works, we put ourselves into communion with another realm where the devil does not work, he cannot touch us,” Deacon Carnazzo explained.
It better disposes us for prayer, noted Monsignor Pope. Because we feel greater hunger or thirst when we fast from food and water, “it reminds us of our frailty and helps us be more humble,” he said. “Without humility, prayer and then our experience of God really can't be unlocked.”
Thus, the practice is “clearly linked by St. Thomas Aquinas, writing within the Tradition, to chastity, to purity, and to clarity of mind,” noted Fr. Lew.
“You can kind of postulate from that that our modern-day struggles with the virtue of chastity, and perhaps a lack of clarity in theological knowledge, might be linked to an abandonment of fasting as well.”
A brief history of fasting
The current fasting obligations were set in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, but in previous centuries, the common fasts among Catholics were stricter and more regularly observed.
Catholics abstained from meat on all Fridays of the year, Easter Friday excluded. During Lent, they had to fast – one meatless meal and two smaller meatless meals – on all days excluding Sunday, the day of the Resurrection. They abstained from meat on Fridays and Saturdays in Lent – the days of Christ's death and lying in the tomb – but were allowed meat during the main meal on the other Lenten weekdays.
The obligations extended to other days of the liturgical year. Catholics fasted and abstained on the vigils of Christmas and Pentecost Sunday, and on Ember Days – the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after the Feast of St. Lucy on Dec. 13, after Ash Wednesday, after Pentecost Sunday, and after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in September – corresponding with the four seasons.
In centuries past, the Lenten abstention was more austere. Catholics gave up not only meat but also animal products like milk and butter, as well as oil and even fish at times.
Why are today's obligations in the Latin Rite so minimal? The Church is setting clear boundaries outside of which one cannot be considered to be practicing the Christian life, Deacon Carnazzo explained. That is why intentionally violating the Lenten obligations is a mortal sin.
But should Catholics perform more than the minimum penance that is demanded? Yes, said Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P., who is currently studying for a Pontifical License in Sacred Theology at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C.
The minimum may be “what is due to God out of justice,” he explained, but we are “called not only to be just to God,” but also “to love God and to love our neighbor.” Charity, he added, “would call us to do more than just the minimum that is applied to us by the Code of Canon Law today, I think.”
In Jeremiah 31: 31-33, God promises to write His law upon our hearts, Deacon Carnazzo noted. We must go beyond following a set of rules and love God with our hearts, and this involves doing more than what we are obliged to do, he added.
Be wary of your motivation
However, Fr. Lew noted, fasting “must be stirred up by charity.” A Catholic should not fast out of dieting or pride, but out of love of God.
“It’s always dangerous in the spiritual life to compare yourself to other people,” he said, citing the Gospel of John where Jesus instructed St. Peter not to be concerned about the mission of St. John the Apostle but rather to “follow Me.” (John 21: 20-23).
In like manner, we should be focused on God during Lent and not on the sacrifices of others, he said.
“We will often fail, I think. And that’s not a bad thing. Because if we do fail, this is the opportunity to realize our utter dependence on God and His grace, to seek His mercy and forgiveness, and to seek His strength so that we can grow in virtue and do better,” he added.
And by realizing our weakness and dependence on God, we can “discover anew the depths of God’s mercy for us” and can be more merciful to others, he added.
Giving up good things may seem onerous and burdensome, but can – and should – a Catholic fast with joy?
“It’s referred to in the preface of Lent as a joyful season,” Fr. Lew said. “And it’s the joy of deepening our relationship with Christ, and therefore coming closer to Him. It’s the joy of loving Him more, and the more we love God the closer we draw to Him.”
“Lent is all about the Cross, and eventually the resurrection,” said Deacon Carnazzo. If we “make an authentic, real sacrifice for Christ” during Lent, “we can come to that day of the crucifixion and say 'Yes Lord, I willingly with you accept the cross. And when we do that, then we will behold the third day of resurrection.'
Pope Francis Goes to Confession
Vatican City, (EWTN News/CNA)
At the end of his annual Lenten penitential service on Friday, Pope Francis was the first to go to the sacrament of confession, afterward hearing the confessions of seven laypeople, three men and four women, in attendance.
Instead of giving a homily during the service, which he has done in years past, Pope Francis led people in a lengthy silence following the readings in order to reflect and pray prior to receiving the sacrament of confession.
Earlier on March 17, Francis spoke with participants of the Apostolic Penitentiary’s annual course on the internal forum about the importance of confessors being available to people and spiritually well-formed.
In his speech, the Pope said that to be a good confessor, a priest must be a man of prayer, a man who is attentive to the Holy Spirit and knows how to discern well, and who also is a good evangelizer.
Held in St. Peter's Basilica, the penitential service usually takes place on the fourth Friday of Lent, in anticipation of the “24 Hours for the Lord” initiative held yearly on the fourth Friday and Saturday of Lent.
This year, however, the Pope's penitential service was moved to the week prior, March 17. In addition to going to confession and hearing the confessions of seven others, the service included prayers, songs and readings from Scripture.
Afterward, almost 100 priest and bishops were available to hear the confessions of those in attendance.
Led by Pope Francis, “24 Hours for the Lord” is a worldwide initiative which points to confession as a primary way to experience God's merciful embrace. It was launched in 2014 under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.
Taking place on Mar. 24-25, this year's theme is “I Desire Mercy” (Mt. 9:13). The theme is taken from the verse in Matthew which says: “Go and learn the meaning of the words, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
Starting in the evening on March 24, churches throughout Rome will remain open for 24 hours to give pilgrims the opportunity to go to confession and take part in Eucharistic Adoration.
While parishes in Rome will be open overnight, churches elsewhere in the world are invited to participate as well, adapting the initiative to suit their local situations and needs.
Additional information on the “24 Hours for the Lord” can be found at the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization's website, www.novaevangelizatio.va.
This Priest from Oklahoma was a Martyr – Here's His Powerful StoryBy Mary Rezac
Oklahoma City, Okla., Feb 18 (EWTN News/CNA) - “Padre, they've come for you.”
Those were some of the last words heard by Father Stanley Francis, spoken by someone staying at the mission in Guatemala who had been led, at gunpoint, to where “Padre Francisco” was sleeping.
It was 1:30 in the morning on July 28, 1981, and Guatemala was in the throes of a decades-long civil war. The three ski-masked men who broke into the rectory were Ladinos, the non-indigenous men who had been fighting the native people and rural poor of the country since the 60s. They were known for their kidnappings, and wanted to turn Father Stanley into one of “the missing.”
But Father Stanley refused. Not wanting to endanger the others at the parish mission, he struggled but did not call for help. Fifteen minutes and two gunshots later, Father Stanley was dead and the men fled the mission grounds.
“How a 46-year-old priest from a small German farming community in Oklahoma came to live and die in this remote, ancient Guatemalan village is a story full of wonder and God’s providence,” writes Maria Scaperlanda in her biography of Father Stanley, “The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run.”
The five-foot-ten, strawberry-blonde-bearded missionary priest was from the unassuming town of Okarche, Okla., where the parish, school and farm were the pillars of community life. He went to the same school his whole life and lived with his family until he left for seminary.
Surrounded by good priests and a vibrant parish life, Stanley felt God calling him to the priesthood from a young age. But despite a strong calling, Stanley would struggle in the seminary, failing several classes and out of two seminaries before finally finishing.
Hearing of Stanely’s struggles, Sister Clarissa Tenbrick, his 5th grade teacher, wrote him to offer encouragement, reminding him that the patron Saint of all priests, St. John Vianney, also struggled in seminary.
“Both of them were simple men who knew they had a call to the priesthood and then had somebody empower them so that they could complete their studies and be priests,” Scaperlanda told CNA. “And they brought a goodness, simplicity and generous heart with them in (everything) they did.”
When Stanley was still in seminary, Pope St. John XXIII asked the Churches of North America to send assistance and establish missions in Central America. Soon after, the diocese of Oklahoma City and the diocese of Tulsa established a mission in Santiago Atitlan in Guatemala, a poor rural community of mostly indigenous people.
A few years after he was ordained, Fr. Stanley accepted an invitation to join the mission team, where he would spend the next 13 years of his life.
When he arrived to the mission, the Tz'utujil Mayan Indians in the village had no native equivalent for Stanley, so they took to calling him Padre Francisco, after his baptismal name of Francis.
The work ethic Fr. Stanley learned on his family’s farm would serve him well in this new place. As a mission priest, he was called on not just to say Mass, but to fix the broken truck or work the fields. He built a farmers' co-op, a school, a hospital, and the first Catholic radio station, which was used for catechesis to the even more remote villages.
“What I think is tremendous is how God doesn't waste any details,” Scaperlanda said. “That same love for the land and the small town where everybody helps each other, all those things that he learned in Okarche is exactly what he needed when he arrived in Santiago.”
The beloved Padre Francisco was also known for his kindness, selflessness, joy and attentive presence among his parishioners. Dozens of pictures show giggling children running after Padre Francisco and grabbing his hands, Scaperlanda said.
“It was Father Stanley’s natural disposition to share the labor with them, to break bread with them, and celebrate life with them, that made the community in Guatemala say of Father Stanley, ‘he was our priest,’” she said.
Over the years, the violence of the Guatemalan civil war inched closer to the once-peaceful village. Disappearances, killings and danger soon became a part of daily life, but Fr. Stanley remained steadfast and supportive of his people.
In 1980-1981, the violence escalated to an almost unbearable point. Fr. Stanley was constantly seeing friends and parishioners abducted or killed. In a letter to Oklahoma Catholics during what would be his last Christmas, the priest relayed to the people back home the dangers his mission parish faced daily.
“The reality is that we are in danger. But we don’t know when or what form the government will use to further repress the Church…. Given the situation, I am not ready to leave here just yet… But if it is my destiny that I should give my life here, then so be it.... I don’t want to desert these people, and that is what will be said, even after all these years. There is still a lot of good that can be done under the circumstances.”
He ended the letter with what would become his signature quote:
“The shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger. Pray for us that we may be a sign of the love of Christ for our people, that our presence among them will fortify them to endure these sufferings in preparation for the coming of the Kingdom.”
In January 1981, in immediate danger and his name on a death list, Fr. Stanley did return to Oklahoma for a few months. But as Easter approached, he wanted to spend Holy Week with his people in Guatemala.
“Father Stanley could not abandon his people,” Scaperlanda said. “He made a point of returning to his Guatemala parish in time to celebrate Holy Week with his parishioners that year – and ultimately was killed for living out his Catholic faith.”
Scaperlanda, who has worked on Fr. Stanley’s cause for canonization, said the priest is a great witness and example, particularly in the Year of Mercy.
“Father Stanley Rother is truly a saint of mercy,” she said. “He fed the hungry, sheltered the homeless, visited the sick, comforted the afflicted, bore wrongs patiently, buried the dead – all of it.”
His life is also a great example of ordinary people being called to do extraordinary things for God, she said.
“(W)hat impacted me the most about Father Stanley’s life was how ordinary it was!” she said.
“I love how simply Oklahoma City’s Archbishop Paul Coakley states it: ‘We need the witness of holy men and women who remind us that we are all called to holiness – and that holy men and women come from ordinary places like Okarche, Oklahoma,’” she said.
“Although the details are different, I believe the call is the same – and the challenge is also the same. Like Father Stanley, each of us is called to say ‘yes’ to God with our whole heart. We are all asked to see the Other standing before us as a child of God, to treat them with respect and a generous heart,” she added.
“We are called to holiness – whether we live in Okarche, Oklahoma, or New York City or Guatemala City.”
In June 2015, the Theological Commission of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints voted to recognize Fr. Stanley Rother as a martyr. The next step will be for his cause to go before a panel of cardinals and archbishops of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints.
“The fourth precept ("You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church") ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.
The fifth precept ("You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church") means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability.
The faithful also have the duty of providing for the material needs of the Church, each according to his own abilities.."
Catechism of the Catholic Church #2043
“It’s not the money—it’s the principle,” she insisted. “My husband took those pencils from work.”
Ivy League MusicA month after Donald MacDonald started at Harvard, his mother called from Scotland. "And how are the American students, Donald?" she asked.
"They’re so noisy," he complained. "One neighbor endlessly bangs his head against the wall, while another screams all night."
"How do you put up with it?"
"I just ignore them and play my bagpipes."
Kids in Church 2
THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
A Sunday School teacher decided to have her young class memorize one of the most quoted passages in the Bible - Psalm 23. She gave the youngsters a month to learn the chapter. Little Rick was excited about the task - but he just couldn't remember the Psalm. After much practice, he could barely get past the first line. On the day that the kids were scheduled to recite Psalm 23 in front of the congregation, Ricky was so nervous. When it was his turn, he stepped up to the microphone and said proudly, 'The Lord is my Shepherd, and that's all I need to know.'
A father was at the beach with his children when the four-year old son ran up to him, grabbed his hand, and led him to the shore, where a seagull lay dead in the sand. "Daddy, what happened to him?" the son asked. "He died and went to Heaven," the dad replied. The boy thought a moment and then said, "Did God throw him back down?"
At Sunday School they were teaching how God created everything, including human beings. Little Johnny, a child in the kindergarten class, seemed especially intent when they told him how Eve was created out of one of Adam's ribs. Later in the week his mother noticed him lying as though he were ill, and said. "Johnny what is the matter?" Little Johnny responded, "I have a pain in my side. I think I'm going to have a wife....!"
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, make this time of prayer and fasting
truly fruitful in my life that I may hunger for only you. Amen.
‘The interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others. Alongside the radical purification brought about by Baptism or martyrdom they cite as means of obtaining forgiveness of sins: effort at reconciliation with one's neighbor, tears of repentance, concern for the salvation of one's neighbor, the intercession of the saints, and the practice of charity ‘which covers a multitude of sins’”
-Catechism of the Catholic Church #1434
SUNDAY MASS READINGS AND QUESTIONS
for Self-Reflection, Couples or Family Discussion
Second Sunday in Lent – Sunday, March 5th, 2023
The First Reading - Genesis 12:1-4a
The LORD said to Abram: “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you. “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you.” Abram went as the LORD directed him.
In this way Abram is called to begin a journey of faith, which lead him from Chaldea (modern Iraq) to the Canaan (modern Israel). Journeying by faith will become a motif throughout salvation history. Generations later, Abram’s descendants the Israelites will journey by faith into the wilderness in the hopes of arriving at the same Promised Land to which Abram himself journeyed, in an event we call the Exodus. Generations later still, the people of Judah will be forced to journey to Babylon, where they will struggle to keep faith for seventy years, before being allowed to journey back to that same Promised Land. As Lent is still young, we continue to hear God’s call on our own lives to begin a spiritual journey with him over these forty days, to a destination we don’t know, but God will show us.
Adults - Do you feel like you are fully entering into Lent? What can help you truly make this a time of transformation?
Teens -What can most help you build your relationship with the Lord this Lent?
Kids - How are you working to grow closer to Jesus this Lent?
Responsorial- Psalm 33: 4-5, 18-19, 20, 22
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
Upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
These verses are meant to encourage us on our journey of faith, both the journey that is Lent, and the larger faith journey of our lives: “Lord, let your mercy be upon us, as we place our trust in you.” As you might guess, the Hebrew word translated as “mercy” here (from Ps 33:22) is actually hesed, one of the most common and theologically rich terms in the Psalter. Hesed, often translated “mercy” or “steadfast love,” actually has a more technical meaning: covenant fidelity, the kind of unwavering love and faithfulness that covenant partners were to show toward one another. So in this Psalm, we call on God to continue his covenant faithfulness to us, since, through Jesus the Son of Abraham (Matt 1:1), we are heirs of the covenantal promises given to Abraham so long ago. Our focus on the mercy and love of God continues. What does the phrase “the fidelity of God” mean to you?
The Second Reading- 2 Timothy 1:8b-10
Beloved: Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God. He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began, but now made manifest through the appearance of our savior Christ Jesus, who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
Reflection - St. Paul begins this passage by calling us to “bear our share of hardship.” Lent should be a time of hardship, to a certain extent. The Church leaves each one of the faithful a great deal of discretion in terms of what mortifications to take on during Lent. It is up to each one of us to challenge ourselves. However, it should be a real challenge. Giving up a few small treats that we hardly notice is really not sufficient. We should set ourselves some goals that stretch us out of our comfort zone. We should wake up in the morning and know it’s Lent. -What can you undertake this Lent to challenge yourself a bit more?
The Holy Gospel according to Matthew 17:1-9
Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone. As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
As the Fathers long recognized, the Transfiguration is a foretaste or glimpse of the glory of Christ in his resurrected state. The sight of his glory is given to Peter, James, and John to encourage them to persevere through the difficult times that lay in front of them before they witness Christ’s resurrection. For us now hearing this Gospel proclaimed at Mass, it is meant to encourage us to persevere not only in Lenten mortification and asceticism until we sacramentally experience Christ’s triumph at Easter, but more broadly in embracing the sufferings of the Christian life until our lowly bodies become like his glorious body (Phil 3:21).
Adults - How would you have responded if you were in the position of the Apostles, seeing Christ transfigured before you?
Teens - Look up the meaning behind the appearance of Moses and Elijah. Why were they there?
Kids - How do you think the Apostles felt in this story? Why did Jesus transfigure before them?
LIVING THE WORD OF GOD THIS WEEK! - Christ has asked us to follow him, carrying our daily cross, and the end of our journey is not Calvary but resurrection, the entrance to a life of glory with our risen Savior. The Christian who grasps his cross closely and willingly, knowing its value for his real life, will find it becomes lighter and often not a burden but a pleasure. The man who tries to shuffle off his cross, and who curses and rebels against him who sent it, will find it doubles its weight and loses all the value it was intended to have for his true welfare. Let the thought of the Transfiguration encourage each one of us today, to do the little God demands of us, so that when we pass out of this life we may be assured of seeing Christ in his glory, ready to welcome us into his everlasting, glorious kingdom. — Excerpted from The Sunday Readings Cycle A, Fr. Kevin O' Sullivan, O.F.M.