GOOD FRIDAY: Mary’s Love, from Conception to Death

Published March 25, 2016 by Unprodigal Daughter

Good Friday

mary at the foot of the cross.jpg

Today is the most solemn day of the Catholic liturgical year. This is the day that we commemorate the suffering and death of our Lord. However, this liturgical year has some odd things about it. Aside from Easter being very early, we also must move the observance of another special day in our church year in order to observe Good Friday–today is usually the Solemnity of the Annunciation (March 25th is nine months before Christmas, so we celebrate this date as the day Jesus was conceived. This year the holy day will be moved to April 4th).

Whether it is a year where we are observing the Annunciation or a year that happens to be Good Friday, today celebrates the life of death and Jesus, and the faith of his Blessed Mother. The Annunciation is a celebration of joy–in spite of Mary being very frightened, she still rejoiced at the good news of the angel. On the other hand, from the very beginning, Mary knew the cost of being the Mother of God. While it was a privilege and a blessing to be Jesus’s mother, it was also a huge burden to bear, for it meant that she must watch him suffer and die. Her son would be the new Paschal Lamb.

From the moment of Christ’s conception, Mary’s life lead up to the moment of Jesus on the Cross. Nothing could be more painful than watching your son be betrayed, rejected, abandoned, beaten, and murdered. Christ showed us the saving power of Love when he died for us. In a different way, Mary showed us the saving power of Love by enduring the loss of her Son for the salvation of all. Jesus felt lonely as he cried out, “My God, why have you abandoned me?” It is safe to assume Mary felt the same solitary loneliness as she watched her son, helpless and defeated. Mary had more trust in God than any other regular human being, and she stayed strong even in those moments of horrible desolate loneliness.

Today we shall stand in solidarity with Mary at the foot of the Cross, and remember that sin can be conquered and Love DOES win. To love as Jesus and Mary love requires great sacrifice and pain. Nevertheless, Love is always worth it. Our sacrifices for others lead to a better world, and our efforts will bring about the Kingdom of God. We must stay strong in our own moments of loneliness, helplessness, and defeat, and remember that God’s Love is greater than suffering and death.

Opening Prayer

Virgin Mary Prayer at the Foot of the Cross
Mother of mercy and love, blessed Virgin Mary, I am a poor and unworthy sinner, and I turn to you in confidence and love. You stood by your Son as he hung dying on the cross. Stand also by me, a poor sinner, and by all the priests who are offering Mass today here and throughout the entire Church. Help us to offer a perfect and acceptable sacrifice in the sight of the holy and undivided Trinity, our most high God.  Amen.

(taken from https://carmelourladysdovecote.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/virgin-mary-prayer-at-the-foot-of-the-cross/)

 

Daily Readings

Reading 1 IS 52:13—53:12

See, my servant shall prosper,
he shall be raised high and greatly exalted.
Even as many were amazed at him—
so marred was his look beyond human semblance
and his appearance beyond that of the sons of man—
so shall he startle many nations,
because of him kings shall stand speechless;
for those who have not been told shall see,
those who have not heard shall ponder it.

Who would believe what we have heard?
To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
He grew up like a sapling before him,
like a shoot from the parched earth;
there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him,
nor appearance that would attract us to him.
He was spurned and avoided by people,
a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity,
one of those from whom people hide their faces,
spurned, and we held him in no esteem.

Yet it was our infirmities that he bore,
our sufferings that he endured,
while we thought of him as stricken,
as one smitten by God and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our offenses,
crushed for our sins;
upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole,
by his stripes we were healed.
We had all gone astray like sheep,
each following his own way;
but the LORD laid upon him
the guilt of us all.

Though he was harshly treated, he submitted
and opened not his mouth;
like a lamb led to the slaughter
or a sheep before the shearers,
he was silent and opened not his mouth.
Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away,
and who would have thought any more of his destiny?
When he was cut off from the land of the living,
and smitten for the sin of his people,
a grave was assigned him among the wicked
and a burial place with evildoers,
though he had done no wrong
nor spoken any falsehood.
But the LORD was pleased
to crush him in infirmity.

If he gives his life as an offering for sin,
he shall see his descendants in a long life,
and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.

Because of his affliction
he shall see the light in fullness of days;
through his suffering, my servant shall justify many,
and their guilt he shall bear.
Therefore I will give him his portion among the great,
and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty,
because he surrendered himself to death
and was counted among the wicked;
and he shall take away the sins of many,
and win pardon for their offenses.

________________________
Responsorial Psalm PS 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25

R. (Lk 23:46) Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

_
In you, O LORD, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me.
Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.
R. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

_
For all my foes I am an object of reproach,
a laughingstock to my neighbors, and a dread to my friends;
they who see me abroad flee from me.
I am forgotten like the unremembered dead;
I am like a dish that is broken.
R. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

_
But my trust is in you, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.
In your hands is my destiny; rescue me
from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors.”
R. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

_
Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your kindness.
Take courage and be stouthearted,
all you who hope in the LORD.
R. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

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Reading 2 HEB 4:14-16; 5:7-9

Brothers and sisters:
Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who has similarly been tested in every way,
yet without sin.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

In the days when Christ was in the flesh,
he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears
to the one who was able to save him from death,
and he was heard because of his reverence.
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered;
and when he was made perfect,
he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

___________________________
Verse Before The Gospel PHIL 2:8-9

Christ became obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name which is above every other name.

____________________________
Gospel JN 18:1—19:42

Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley
to where there was a garden,
into which he and his disciples entered.
Judas his betrayer also knew the place,
because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.
So Judas got a band of soldiers and guards
from the chief priests and the Pharisees
and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.
Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him,
went out and said to them, “Whom are you looking for?”
They answered him, “Jesus the Nazorean.”
He said to them, “I AM.”
Judas his betrayer was also with them.
When he said to them, “I AM, “
they turned away and fell to the ground.
So he again asked them,
“Whom are you looking for?”
They said, “Jesus the Nazorean.”
Jesus answered,
“I told you that I AM.
So if you are looking for me, let these men go.”
This was to fulfill what he had said,
“I have not lost any of those you gave me.”
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it,
struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear.
The slave’s name was Malchus.
Jesus said to Peter,
“Put your sword into its scabbard.
Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?”

So the band of soldiers, the tribune, and the Jewish guards seized Jesus,
bound him, and brought him to Annas first.
He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas,
who was high priest that year.
It was Caiaphas who had counseled the Jews
that it was better that one man should die rather than the people.

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus.
Now the other disciple was known to the high priest,
and he entered the courtyard of the high priest with Jesus.
But Peter stood at the gate outside.
So the other disciple, the acquaintance of the high priest,
went out and spoke to the gatekeeper and brought Peter in.
Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter,
“You are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?”
He said, “I am not.”
Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire
that they had made, because it was cold,
and were warming themselves.
Peter was also standing there keeping warm.

The high priest questioned Jesus
about his disciples and about his doctrine.
Jesus answered him,
“I have spoken publicly to the world.
I have always taught in a synagogue
or in the temple area where all the Jews gather,
and in secret I have said nothing. Why ask me?
Ask those who heard me what I said to them.
They know what I said.”
When he had said this,
one of the temple guards standing there struck Jesus and said,
“Is this the way you answer the high priest?”
Jesus answered him,
“If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong;
but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?”
Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Now Simon Peter was standing there keeping warm.
And they said to him,
“You are not one of his disciples, are you?”
He denied it and said,
“I am not.”
One of the slaves of the high priest,
a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, said,
“Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?”
Again Peter denied it.
And immediately the cock crowed.

Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the praetorium.
It was morning.
And they themselves did not enter the praetorium,
in order not to be defiled so that they could eat the Passover.
So Pilate came out to them and said,
“What charge do you bring against this man?”
They answered and said to him,
“If he were not a criminal,
we would not have handed him over to you.”
At this, Pilate said to them,
“Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law.”
The Jews answered him,
“We do not have the right to execute anyone, “
in order that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled
that he said indicating the kind of death he would die.
So Pilate went back into the praetorium
and summoned Jesus and said to him,
“Are you the King of the Jews?”
Jesus answered,
“Do you say this on your own
or have others told you about me?”
Pilate answered,
“I am not a Jew, am I?
Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.
What have you done?”
Jesus answered,
“My kingdom does not belong to this world.
If my kingdom did belong to this world,
my attendants would be fighting
to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.
But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”
So Pilate said to him,
“Then you are a king?”
Jesus answered,
“You say I am a king.
For this I was born and for this I came into the world,
to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

When he had said this,
he again went out to the Jews and said to them,
“I find no guilt in him.
But you have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at Passover.
Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”
They cried out again,
“Not this one but Barabbas!”
Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged.
And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head,
and clothed him in a purple cloak,
and they came to him and said,
“Hail, King of the Jews!”
And they struck him repeatedly.
Once more Pilate went out and said to them,
“Look, I am bringing him out to you,
so that you may know that I find no guilt in him.”
So Jesus came out,
wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak.
And he said to them, “Behold, the man!”
When the chief priests and the guards saw him they cried out,
“Crucify him, crucify him!”
Pilate said to them,
“Take him yourselves and crucify him.
I find no guilt in him.”
The Jews answered,
“We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die,
because he made himself the Son of God.”
Now when Pilate heard this statement,
he became even more afraid,
and went back into the praetorium and said to Jesus,
“Where are you from?”
Jesus did not answer him.
So Pilate said to him,
“Do you not speak to me?
Do you not know that I have power to release you
and I have power to crucify you?”
Jesus answered him,
“You would have no power over me
if it had not been given to you from above.
For this reason the one who handed me over to you
has the greater sin.”
Consequently, Pilate tried to release him; but the Jews cried out,
“If you release him, you are not a Friend of Caesar.
Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.”

When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus out
and seated him on the judge’s bench
in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha.
It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon.
And he said to the Jews,
“Behold, your king!”
They cried out,
“Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!”
Pilate said to them,
“Shall I crucify your king?”
The chief priests answered,
“We have no king but Caesar.”
Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus, and, carrying the cross himself,
he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull,
in Hebrew, Golgotha.
There they crucified him, and with him two others,
one on either side, with Jesus in the middle.
Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross.
It read,
“Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews.”
Now many of the Jews read this inscription,
because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city;
and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.
So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate,
“Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’
but that he said, ‘I am the King of the Jews’.”
Pilate answered,
“What I have written, I have written.”

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus,
they took his clothes and divided them into four shares,
a share for each soldier.
They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless,
woven in one piece from the top down.
So they said to one another,
“Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be, “
in order that the passage of Scripture might be fulfilled that says:
They divided my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.
This is what the soldiers did.
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary of Magdala.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

After this, aware that everything was now finished,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled,
Jesus said, “I thirst.”
There was a vessel filled with common wine.
So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop
and put it up to his mouth.
When Jesus had taken the wine, he said,
“It is finished.”
And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

Now since it was preparation day,
in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath,
for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one,
the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken
and that they be taken down.
So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first
and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus.
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead,
they did not break his legs,
but one soldier thrust his lance into his side,
and immediately blood and water flowed out.
An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true;
he knows that he is speaking the truth,
so that you also may come to believe.
For this happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled:
Not a bone of it will be broken.
And again another passage says:
They will look upon him whom they have pierced.

After this, Joseph of Arimathea,
secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews,
asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus.
And Pilate permitted it.
So he came and took his body.
Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night,
also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes
weighing about one hundred pounds.
They took the body of Jesus
and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices,
according to the Jewish burial custom.
Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden,
and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried.
So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day;
for the tomb was close by.

Multimedia

Bishop Robert Barron reflects on the paradoxical nature of Christ on the Cross in this clip.

Additional Activities

Here are some Good Friday reflective activities (jpeg): Good Friday Learning Pack 1

Good Friday Learning Pack.jpg

Good Friday Learning Pack 2.jpg

Closing Prayer

We glory in your cross, O Lord,
and praise and glorify your holy resurrection:
for by virtue of the cross,
joy has come to the whole world.

God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,
that your way may be known upon earth,
your saving power among all nations.

We glory in your cross, O Lord,
and praise and glorify your holy resurrection:
for by virtue of the cross,
joy has come to the whole world.

Lord, we come to the cross
in your mercy, hear us.

Almighty Father,
look with mercy on this your family
for which our Lord Jesus Christ was content to be betrayed
and given up into the hands of sinners
and to suffer death upon the cross;
who is alive and glorified with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

(taken from https://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-worship/worship/texts/daily2/morneve/prayerscross.aspx)

Palm Sunday: The Hard Route Leads to Love

Published March 20, 2016 by Unprodigal Daughter

Palm Sunday

On Palm Sunday, Jesus processed triumphantly into Jerusalem, experiencing praise by everyone he came across. It was a moment of glory–like winning a competition or receiving an award for one’s accomplishments. But unlike the average person who experiences praise, Jesus had full awareness of when this glory would cease.

Only a few days later,  Jesus would feel the defeat of rejection. He would be beaten, spit on, stripped, and overall dehumanized by people who were trying to make him king not long before. Jesus experienced the highs and lows of life all at once and accepted his fate because of love.

When we receive praise, we are on top of the world.We feel loving, happy, and compassionate.  We want to share our moment with others. On the other hand, our low moments of loss, pain, and suffering are outside of our mind at that time. We forget that the moments of glory are fleeting. When someone takes away our glory or hurts our pride, we are bitter, and we feel entitled. We complain, and try to blame it on other people. “How could this happen to ME?” “I am a good person!” “I deserved that job!” “It should have been ME.” “Life is unfair!” Suddenly the joy and love that we wished to share with others is gone. It seems that our love is often fickle, in the same way that the crowd was fickle with Jesus in Jerusalem.

But we do not have to experience this pain of loss of glory if we follow in the footsteps of Christ. Christ loved those who went from praising him to rejecting him. He did not feel entitled. He did not turn his back on them even though they turned on him. He radically loved them, even when he was at his lowest point, and this is why he was a happy man on the Cross.

This Holy Week, let us attempt to love those who reject us, demean us, and forget about us. Let us accept our own cross through the outpouring of our love. Let us stand in solidarity with Christ, and learn from his actions. Let us make this a week of love, no matter how difficult. The easy route is to complain and blame. The difficult route is to accept and grow. Only one route leads to love.

Opening Prayer

Gracious God, the energy and emotion of a parade can generate joy. Yet the joy of your  parade into Jerusalem turned so quickly to pain signaling the sacrifice of your own self.  Let this day remind me that while emotions can be fickle, your faithfulness and love remain true.  May I see in the giving of your life the power to give myself for others simply for love.  When life’s struggle sears my soul or sacrifice strips me of hope, strengthen me with your spirit that strode into Jerusalem to face death even as palm branches were strewn before your path and the crowd cried “Hosanna in the highest.”

(taken from      http://www.explorefaith.org/prayer/prayer/prayers_for_living/prayer_for_palm_sunday.php)

Daily Readings

At The Procession With Palms – Gospel LK 19:28-40

Jesus proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.
As he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany
at the place called the Mount of Olives,
he sent two of his disciples.
He said, “Go into the village opposite you,
and as you enter it you will find a colt tethered
on which no one has ever sat.
Untie it and bring it here.
And if anyone should ask you,
‘Why are you untying it?’
you will answer,
‘The Master has need of it.’”
So those who had been sent went off
and found everything just as he had told them.
And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them,
“Why are you untying this colt?”
They answered,
“The Master has need of it.”
So they brought it to Jesus,
threw their cloaks over the colt,
and helped Jesus to mount.
As he rode along,
the people were spreading their cloaks on the road;
and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives,
the whole multitude of his disciples
began to praise God aloud with joy
for all the mighty deeds they had seen.
They proclaimed:
“Blessed is the king who comes
in the name of the Lord.
Peace in heaven
and glory in the highest.”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him,
“Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”
He said in reply,
“I tell you, if they keep silent,
the stones will cry out!”

_
At The Mass – Reading 1 IS 50:4-7

The Lord GOD has given me
a well-trained tongue,
that I might know how to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse them.
Morning after morning
he opens my ear that I may hear;
and I have not rebelled,
have not turned back.
I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
my face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting.

The Lord GOD is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.

____
Responsorial Psalm PS 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24

R. (2a) My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
All who see me scoff at me;
they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads:
“He relied on the LORD; let him deliver him,
let him rescue him, if he loves him.”
R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Indeed, many dogs surround me,
a pack of evildoers closes in upon me;
They have pierced my hands and my feet;
I can count all my bones.
R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
They divide my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.
But you, O LORD, be not far from me;
O my help, hasten to aid me.
R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
I will proclaim your name to my brethren;
in the midst of the assembly I will praise you:
“You who fear the LORD, praise him;
all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to him;
revere him, all you descendants of Israel!”
R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

________
Reading 2 PHIL 2:6-11

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

____
Verse Before The Gospel PHIL 2:8-9

Christ became obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name which is above every name.

____
Gospel LK 22:14—23:56

When the hour came,
Jesus took his place at table with the apostles.
He said to them,
“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer,
for, I tell you, I shall not eat it again
until there is fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and said,
“Take this and share it among yourselves;
for I tell you that from this time on
I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine
until the kingdom of God comes.”
Then he took the bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them, saying,
“This is my body, which will be given for you;
do this in memory of me.”
And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood,
which will be shed for you.

“And yet behold, the hand of the one who is to betray me
is with me on the table;
for the Son of Man indeed goes as it has been determined;
but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed.”
And they began to debate among themselves
who among them would do such a deed.

Then an argument broke out among them
about which of them should be regarded as the greatest.
He said to them,
“The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them
and those in authority over them are addressed as ‘Benefactors’;
but among you it shall not be so.
Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest,
and the leader as the servant.
For who is greater:
the one seated at table or the one who serves?
Is it not the one seated at table?
I am among you as the one who serves.
It is you who have stood by me in my trials;
and I confer a kingdom on you,
just as my Father has conferred one on me,
that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom;
and you will sit on thrones
judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

“Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded
to sift all of you like wheat,
but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail;
and once you have turned back,
you must strengthen your brothers.”
He said to him,
“Lord, I am prepared to go to prison and to die with you.”
But he replied,
“I tell you, Peter, before the cock crows this day,
you will deny three times that you know me.”

He said to them,
“When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals,
were you in need of anything?”
“No, nothing, “ they replied.
He said to them,
“But now one who has a money bag should take it,
and likewise a sack,
and one who does not have a sword
should sell his cloak and buy one.
For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me,
namely, He was counted among the wicked;
and indeed what is written about me is coming to fulfillment.”
Then they said,
“Lord, look, there are two swords here.”
But he replied, “It is enough!”

Then going out, he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives,
and the disciples followed him.
When he arrived at the place he said to them,
“Pray that you may not undergo the test.”
After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling,
he prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing,
take this cup away from me;
still, not my will but yours be done.”
And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him.
He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently
that his sweat became like drops of blood
falling on the ground.
When he rose from prayer and returned to his disciples,
he found them sleeping from grief.
He said to them, “Why are you sleeping?
Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test.”

While he was still speaking, a crowd approached
and in front was one of the Twelve, a man named Judas.
He went up to Jesus to kiss him.
Jesus said to him,
“Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
His disciples realized what was about to happen, and they asked,
“Lord, shall we strike with a sword?”
And one of them struck the high priest’s servant
and cut off his right ear.
But Jesus said in reply,
“Stop, no more of this!”
Then he touched the servant’s ear and healed him.
And Jesus said to the chief priests and temple guards
and elders who had come for him,
“Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs?
Day after day I was with you in the temple area,
and you did not seize me;
but this is your hour, the time for the power of darkness.”

After arresting him they led him away
and took him into the house of the high priest;
Peter was following at a distance.
They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it,
and Peter sat down with them.
When a maid saw him seated in the light,
she looked intently at him and said,
“This man too was with him.”
But he denied it saying,
“Woman, I do not know him.”
A short while later someone else saw him and said,
“You too are one of them”;
but Peter answered, “My friend, I am not.”
About an hour later, still another insisted,
“Assuredly, this man too was with him,
for he also is a Galilean.”
But Peter said,
“My friend, I do not know what you are talking about.”
Just as he was saying this, the cock crowed,
and the Lord turned and looked at Peter;
and Peter remembered the word of the Lord,
how he had said to him,
“Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.”
He went out and began to weep bitterly.
The men who held Jesus in custody were ridiculing and beating him.
They blindfolded him and questioned him, saying,
“Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?”
And they reviled him in saying many other things against him.

When day came the council of elders of the people met,
both chief priests and scribes,
and they brought him before their Sanhedrin.
They said, “If you are the Christ, tell us, “
but he replied to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe,
and if I question, you will not respond.
But from this time on the Son of Man will be seated
at the right hand of the power of God.”
They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”
He replied to them, “You say that I am.”
Then they said, “What further need have we for testimony?
We have heard it from his own mouth.”

Then the whole assembly of them arose and brought him before Pilate.
They brought charges against him, saying,
“We found this man misleading our people;
he opposes the payment of taxes to Caesar
and maintains that he is the Christ, a king.”
Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
He said to him in reply, “You say so.”
Pilate then addressed the chief priests and the crowds,
“I find this man not guilty.”
But they were adamant and said,
“He is inciting the people with his teaching throughout all Judea,
from Galilee where he began even to here.”

On hearing this Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean;
and upon learning that he was under Herod’s jurisdiction,
he sent him to Herod who was in Jerusalem at that time.
Herod was very glad to see Jesus;
he had been wanting to see him for a long time,
for he had heard about him
and had been hoping to see him perform some sign.
He questioned him at length,
but he gave him no answer.
The chief priests and scribes, meanwhile,
stood by accusing him harshly.
Herod and his soldiers treated him contemptuously and mocked him,
and after clothing him in resplendent garb,
he sent him back to Pilate.
Herod and Pilate became friends that very day,
even though they had been enemies formerly.
Pilate then summoned the chief priests, the rulers, and the people
and said to them, “You brought this man to me
and accused him of inciting the people to revolt.
I have conducted my investigation in your presence
and have not found this man guilty
of the charges you have brought against him,
nor did Herod, for he sent him back to us.
So no capital crime has been committed by him.
Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him.”

But all together they shouted out,
“Away with this man!
Release Barabbas to us.”
— Now Barabbas had been imprisoned for a rebellion
that had taken place in the city and for murder. —
Again Pilate addressed them, still wishing to release Jesus,
but they continued their shouting,
“Crucify him! Crucify him!”
Pilate addressed them a third time,
“What evil has this man done?
I found him guilty of no capital crime.
Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him.”
With loud shouts, however,
they persisted in calling for his crucifixion,
and their voices prevailed.
The verdict of Pilate was that their demand should be granted.
So he released the man who had been imprisoned
for rebellion and murder, for whom they asked,
and he handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they wished.

As they led him away
they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian,
who was coming in from the country;
and after laying the cross on him,
they made him carry it behind Jesus.
A large crowd of people followed Jesus,
including many women who mourned and lamented him.
Jesus turned to them and said,
“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me;
weep instead for yourselves and for your children
for indeed, the days are coming when people will say,
‘Blessed are the barren,
the wombs that never bore
and the breasts that never nursed.’
At that time people will say to the mountains,
‘Fall upon us!’
and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’
for if these things are done when the wood is green
what will happen when it is dry?”
Now two others, both criminals,
were led away with him to be executed.

When they came to the place called the Skull,
they crucified him and the criminals there,
one on his right, the other on his left.
Then Jesus said,
“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”
They divided his garments by casting lots.
The people stood by and watched;
the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said,
“He saved others, let him save himself
if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.”
Even the soldiers jeered at him.
As they approached to offer him wine they called out,
“If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”
Above him there was an inscription that read,
“This is the King of the Jews.”

Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,
“Are you not the Christ?
Save yourself and us.”
The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply,
“Have you no fear of God,
for you are subject to the same condemnation?
And indeed, we have been condemned justly,
for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes,
but this man has done nothing criminal.”
Then he said,
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
He replied to him,
“Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise.”

It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon
because of an eclipse of the sun.
Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle.
Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”;
and when he had said this he breathed his last.

The centurion who witnessed what had happened glorified God and said,
“This man was innocent beyond doubt.”
When all the people who had gathered for this spectacle saw what had happened,
they returned home beating their breasts;
but all his acquaintances stood at a distance,
including the women who had followed him from Galilee
and saw these events.
Now there was a virtuous and righteous man named Joseph who,
though he was a member of the council,
had not consented to their plan of action.
He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea
and was awaiting the kingdom of God.
He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
After he had taken the body down,
he wrapped it in a linen cloth
and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb
in which no one had yet been buried.
It was the day of preparation,
and the sabbath was about to begin.
The women who had come from Galilee with him followed behind,
and when they had seen the tomb
and the way in which his body was laid in it,
they returned and prepared spices and perfumed oils.
Then they rested on the sabbath according to the commandment.

_________________________

Multimedia

Bishop Robert Barron offers us an interesting reflection on Palm Sunday.

Additional Activities

Please enjoy this 3-minute retreat reflecting on the Passion of Christ.

Closing Prayer

Here is a call and response Palm Sunday prayer:

Lord, you set your face towards Jerusalem and walked alongside those who suffer.
Be our vision that we too may walk the way of the cross and extend a hand to those we meet.

Lord, give us the gladness of your help
And support us with a willing spirit.

Lord, you stopped to heal the sick, cure the lame and give sight to the blind.
Be our vision that we too may give time to others and respond to their needs.

Lord, give us the gladness of your help
And support us with a willing spirit.

Lord, you said, “The first shall be last and the last first.”
Be our vision that we too may work towards your kingdom when the exalted will be brought low and the lowly exalted.

Lord, give us the gladness of your help
And support us with a willing spirit.

Lord, you ate with tax collectors and sinners and heard their stories.
Be our vision that we too may listen to the despised and rejected and value their lives.

Lord, give us the gladness of your help
And support us with a willing spirit.

Lord, you took time to pray and time to be silent. Be our vision that through our prayers, fasting and almsgiving we too may draw closer to you and find your way.

Lord, give us the gladness of your help
And support us with a willing spirit.

Lord, you entered Jerusalem with peace in your heart.
Be our vision that we too may desire peace where others desire war,
and may work for justice where injustice reigns.

Lord, give us the gladness of your help
And support us with a willing spirit
For you are our hope and our salvation.

(taken from https://educationforjustice.org/node/1290)

Fifth Sunday of Lent: Don’t Judge Others, Just Love Yourself

Published March 13, 2016 by Unprodigal Daughter

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Judging others is a habit that all of us have as human beings. Even the holiest person you know has probably judged someone unfairly at some point in their lives.  One of the most well-known passages from Scriptures by Christians and non-Christians alike has to do with judging: “Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone.” But that is not an unusual suggestion for Jesus. There are other places where he tells us not to judge.  Another well-known passage about judging can be found in the synoptic Gospels: “Judge not, that you may not be judged.” This was an important instruction that Jesus gave to us.

Jesus gives us multiple prescriptions to not judge others, and yet it is a sin we all commit over and over again without even thinking about it. We judge people for what they wear, how they vote, how intelligent they are, what they eat, and even things completely out of their control, like their physical attractiveness or their country of origin. So why do we judge others, in spite knowing it is something we are not supposed to do?

The answer lies in how we view ourselves. Like a gossiping teenager, we judge others to make ourselves feel better. For example, we may passively think to ourselves, “what is she WEARING?” because our next thought will probably  be “I look so much better than she does, everybody knows that.” We are looking for self-validation, but we are mistakenly burdening ourselves with masked self-doubt.

Jesus told us to love God and others, but we also must love ourselves. When we worry of what others think of us or whether or not we are worthy of others, we unfairly judge our peers so that we feel more important. But we do not have to do this, because our value comes in who we are, not what people think of us. Every human being has inherent dignity because we are made in the image and likeness of God, and therefore we are good. When we remember that about ourselves, we can appreciate the goodness in others. Once we put our judgment to an end, we are one step closer to learning to love one another as Jesus wants us to: with unconditionality. 

Opening Prayer

Father,

I lay down my self-imposed responsibility of judging the heart, motives, intentions, and actions of the people in my life. You have instructed me in this, and I will obey you. I remove the back-breaking burden of being the judge, and I repent of the pride in my life that is evident every time I have a critical, judgemental thought. You have commanded me to walk in forgiveness and love, to rise above offenses, and to walk humbly with you. I choose that road today. I submit my thoughts to you – each and every one – for approval, choosing loving thoughts and not condemning thoughts, compassionate thoughts not critical thoughts. And kindly remove the log in my eye. Thank you.

In Jesus’ Name and with the help of the Holy Spirit, Amen. 

(taken from: http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/prayerplainandsimple/2015/04/a-prayer-to-stop-judging.html#ixzz42nIeTmPA)

Daily Readings

Reading 1 IS 43:16-21

Thus says the LORD,
who opens a way in the sea
and a path in the mighty waters,
who leads out chariots and horsemen,
a powerful army,
till they lie prostrate together, never to rise,
snuffed out and quenched like a wick.
Remember not the events of the past,
the things of long ago consider not;
see, I am doing something new!
Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
In the desert I make a way,
in the wasteland, rivers.
Wild beasts honor me,
jackals and ostriches,
for I put water in the desert
and rivers in the wasteland
for my chosen people to drink,
the people whom I formed for myself,
that they might announce my praise.

_
Responsorial Psalm PS 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6

R. (3) The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.


When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.


Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those that sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.


Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

________________
Reading 2 PHIL 3:8-14

Brothers and sisters:
I consider everything as a loss
because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things
and I consider them so much rubbish,
that I may gain Christ and be found in him,
not having any righteousness of my own based on the law
but that which comes through faith in Christ,
the righteousness from God,
depending on faith to know him and the power of his resurrection
and the sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death,
if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

It is not that I have already taken hold of it
or have already attained perfect maturity,
but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it,
since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, I for my part
do not consider myself to have taken possession.
Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind
but straining forward to what lies ahead,
I continue my pursuit toward the goal,
the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.

_____________
Verse Before The Gospel JL 2:12-13

Even now, says the Lord,
return to me with your whole heart;
for I am gracious and merciful.

_____________
Gospel JN 8:1-11

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area,
and all the people started coming to him,
and he sat down and taught them.
Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman
who had been caught in adultery
and made her stand in the middle.
They said to him,
“Teacher, this woman was caught
in the very act of committing adultery.
Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.
So what do you say?”
They said this to test him,
so that they could have some charge to bring against him.
Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.
But when they continued asking him,
he straightened up and said to them,
“Let the one among you who is without sin
be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.
And in response, they went away one by one,
beginning with the elders.
So he was left alone with the woman before him.
Then Jesus straightened up and said to her,
“Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?”
She replied, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

(taken from USCCB.org)

_____________________

Multimedia

Aside from Jesus’ instruction to us that we must not judge, it is also unhealthy to judge because we may be jumping to conclusions. For a lighthearted story about false judgment, watch this clip

Additional Activities

For this week’s activity, challenge yourself to avoid judging others. It is likely that you will mentally pass judgment many times, but the next time you catch yourself doing it, remedy the situation by immediately praying for the person you judged. After you pray for the other person, pray for yourself. Pray that you will learn to empathize with others and love yourself more so that you do not have any insecurities that may cause you to judge. Eventually, this prayerful habit will help you see why you are judging, and you will learn to judge others far less.

Closing Prayer

A Prayer for a Chronic Judger

Lord,
why is it that we humans
like to judge each other?

You know,
I make comments
on almost every aspect of life.
I comment

on the weather
on my neighbours
on my work colleagues
on my bosses
on our politicians.

And I listen
to the comments
of others
and often judge them
sometimes too harshly.

Lord,
I may not pull out
a base ball bat
but I know how to use words
that will bruise.
I am an expert in helping
other join in the abuse.

Forgive me, Lord,
When I don’t listen
When I think
I know more than I do
and I do more harm than I’ll ever know.

Help me to be patient
to consider my attitudes
my thoughts
my actions.

Help me to understand
your call to serve
without judging
those i am serving.

(taken from https://heartsonfire33.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/jesus-on-judging-others-a-prayer-by-one-who-judges/)

Fourth Sunday of Lent: Do you believe that God loves you?

Published March 6, 2016 by Unprodigal Daughter

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Everybody knows the story of the Prodigal Son. We have all read it and thought of the times when we were the prodigal son and the times when we behaved like the other son. We relate to the two sons because we are all sinners, and have made countless mistakes throughout our lives. But the story is not really about the two sons. That is where we always make the mistake. The story is about the father, because the story is really about our heavenly Father.

Our Loving God loves us in a way that is difficult for us to understand. The closest comparison we can come up with as human beings is the love between a parent and a child. A parent loves her child unconditionally. She roots for her to succeed, and she looks past her mistakes and faults. We get this with the father in the story–he welcomes his wayward son home and is overjoyed that he has decided to put his life back together.

Now take it one step further than this. Not only is God a loving parent, but God knows us and sees past what divides us. That is, God sees past our labels, our race, our gender, our education, our age, and our nationality. God knows who we are at our core. God’s love does not depend on whether or not we stay in a particular political party, or whether or not we stay a certain weight. God does not expect us to hold a job and pay our bills for his love. When our opinions change, God is not disappointed in us. God knows us, and made us beautiful. The beauty is what God sees, and that is what we should see in others.

To love as God loves, that is, to love like the father in the parable, we must look at the soul of the person. We must remember the inherent dignity of the person, no matter how much they have hurt us or others. The other son in the story roots for his brother to fail, because he hangs on to an idea of what is “fair.” But God’s love is not fair at any point in time. If God’s love were fair, then none of us would have it. God’s love is simply pure compassion and appreciation for his creation, and that is how we must learn to love–without judgment, without fear, and with pure appreciation.

Opening Prayer

Father, I come to You in Jesus’ name. I believe that I have been created for love, to experience your healing love and to share that love in my relationships with others. It’s not enough to exist in my life if I don’t have a relationship built upon expressed love with You or with my family. I renounce the lie that I am not a lover, that I cannot open up my emotions or allow myself to be hurt again. Instead, I ask You to wrap Your arms around me, to comfort me in those areas of hurt and pain and to fill me up so that I can in turn share Your love with those around me. I make a commitment to ask myself hourly, “Father, how can I receive Your love and then give it away to the next person I meet?” I want to live my life as an expression of Your love. I choose to submit to Your love.

(taken from https://orphanheart.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/experiencing-father-gods-love/) 

Daily Readings

Reading 1 JOS 5:9A, 10-12

The LORD said to Joshua,
“Today I have removed the reproach of Egypt from you.”

While the Israelites were encamped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho,
they celebrated the Passover
on the evening of the fourteenth of the month.
On the day after the Passover,
they ate of the produce of the land
in the form of unleavened cakes and parched grain.
On that same day after the Passover,
on which they ate of the produce of the land, the manna ceased.
No longer was there manna for the Israelites,
who that year ate of the yield of the land of Canaan.

___
Responsorial Psalm PS 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7

R. (9a) Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

_
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

_
Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

_
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

____
Reading 2 2 COR 5:17-21

Brothers and sisters:
Whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.
And all this is from God,
who has reconciled us to himself through Christ
and given us the ministry of reconciliation,
namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
not counting their trespasses against them
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
So we are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

___
Verse Before The Gospel LK 15:18

I will get up and go to my Father and shall say to him:
Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.

___
Gospel LK 15:1-3, 11-32

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them Jesus addressed this parable:
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’
So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
‘How many of my father’s hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.
But when your son returns
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.’”

(taken from USCCB.org)

___________________________

Multimedia

God’s love for us is stronger than we could ever imagine. Do you believe that God loves you? Watch this clip to get a better idea of what God’s love looks like.

Additional Activities

Here is a wonderful guided meditation on the story of the Prodigal Son.

Closing Prayer

Heavenly  Father, I invite You to make Yourself at home in my heart. Send my roots deep into the soil of Your marvelous love. Grant me the power to understand its scope—its width, length, height, and depth. Allow me the privilege of experiencing and recognizing that love every day. And Lord, as You teach me more about Your love for me, please fulfill the promise that accompanies a deeper understanding of this gift—fill me with the fullness of life and power that comes from You alone. In Jesus name, amen.

(taken from: http://www.gracefox.com/2012/11/05/a-life-changing-prayer-about-gods-love/)

Third Sunday of Lent: It’s all about FORGIVENESS!

Published February 28, 2016 by Unprodigal Daughter

Third Sunday of Lent

forgiveness

Today’s Gospel tells us Jesus’ parable of the fig tree. Jesus’ parables were short stories or one-liners that were used to illustrate a point about the Kingdom of God that was  not evident through a more direct discussion. 

In the parable of the fig tree, Jesus explains to his followers that the fig tree that grows no fruit should not be discarded. The tree should get a “second chance.” It has not sprouted fruit yet, but it will grow fruit in the future. This is how Jesus views us, too. We get second, third, and thousandth chances from Jesus to turn around and produce good fruit. Jesus is infinitely patient with us, and only wants to call us back home into his arms. Our “tree” may not grow fruit for years, but Jesus still insists that we should not be cut down.

Perhaps a better tree to compare to ourselves is the bamboo tree. Bamboo trees take up to five years before they even sprout from the ground. Jesus’ patient love for us is the same patient love that one must invest into the bamboo tree. You will not see the results right away, but you nurture it nevertheless. You believe in it, and you do not give up. Someday that tree will be strong and beautiful. 

In the same way that Jesus does not give up on us “trees,” so we too must not give up on others. The most powerful thing about Jesus’ forgiveness is that it happens again and again. Not only does he show his love for us, but he shows us how to love. This Lent, challenge yourself to love more authentically. Forgive others. Forgive your ex, forgive the man who cut you in line, forgive the racist, forgive your estranged family member. Forgive again and again. 

Holding onto grudges and the past only causes more pain for us in the present. Our trees begin to shrivel up and die when we do not forgive. Let us all try to remember that Jesus has the option to cut down our trees, but he does not. Following his example, we should help other trees bloom, and never cut them down. It is our job to make sure that the other trees grow.

Opening Prayer

O blessed Christ, my teacher, my savior, my God: You have commanded me to love others as myself. Yet it is so often easy to see the faults in others, for I see their outside and compare it against what is inside me. I have inflated my goodness and importance in my own mind, but have judged others for the smallest shortcoming, and I am filled by foolish pride.
I vow by this prayer that I will strive to follow your Word, to forgive all who have injured me, to turn loose the petty resentments and grudges that poison the world with hatred, and to overlook the faults of others; and I ask to be pardoned wherever I have done injury to my brothers and sisters, who are your beloved children even though they, like me, are sinners. And I vow, when I fall short of your commandment, to seek out and confess my wrongdoing. Forgive me, Holy Christ, and help me to ever amend my life; this I pray, with faith in the grace you have promised to the penitent sinner.

(taken from http://dailyprayer.us/prayers/forgiveness.php)

Daily Readings

Reading 1 EX 3:1-8A, 13-15

Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro,
the priest of Midian.
Leading the flock across the desert, he came to Horeb,
the mountain of God.
There an angel of the LORD appeared to Moses in fire
flaming out of a bush.
As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush,
though on fire, was not consumed.
So Moses decided,
“I must go over to look at this remarkable sight,
and see why the bush is not burned.”

When the LORD saw him coming over to look at it more closely,
God called out to him from the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
He answered, “Here I am.”
God said, “Come no nearer!
Remove the sandals from your feet,
for the place where you stand is holy ground.
I am the God of your fathers,” he continued,
“the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.”
Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
But the LORD said,
“I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt
and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers,
so I know well what they are suffering.
Therefore I have come down to rescue them
from the hands of the Egyptians
and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land,
a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Moses said to God, “But when I go to the Israelites
and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’
if they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?”
God replied, “I am who am.”
Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the Israelites:
I AM sent me to you.”

God spoke further to Moses, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites:
The LORD, the God of your fathers,
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob,
has sent me to you.

“This is my name forever;
thus am I to be remembered through all generations.”

_______
Responsorial Psalm PS 103: 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8, 11

R. (8a) The Lord is kind and merciful.

_
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

_
He pardons all your iniquities,
heals all your ills,
He redeems your life from destruction,
crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

_
The LORD secures justice
and the rights of all the oppressed.
He has made known his ways to Moses,
and his deeds to the children of Israel.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

_
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

_______________
Reading 2 1 COR 10:1-6, 10-12

I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,
that our ancestors were all under the cloud
and all passed through the sea,
and all of them were baptized into Moses
in the cloud and in the sea.
All ate the same spiritual food,
and all drank the same spiritual drink,
for they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them,
and the rock was the Christ.
Yet God was not pleased with most of them,
for they were struck down in the desert.

These things happened as examples for us,
so that we might not desire evil things, as they did.
Do not grumble as some of them did,
and suffered death by the destroyer.
These things happened to them as an example,
and they have been written down as a warning to us,
upon whom the end of the ages has come.
Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure
should take care not to fall.

_________
Verse Before The Gospel MT 4:17

Repent, says the Lord;
the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

_________
Gospel LK 13:1-9

Some people told Jesus about the Galileans
whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way
they were greater sinners than all other Galileans?
By no means!
But I tell you, if you do not repent,
you will all perish as they did!
Or those eighteen people who were killed
when the tower at Siloam fell on them—
do you think they were more guilty
than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem?
By no means!
But I tell you, if you do not repent,
you will all perish as they did!”

And he told them this parable:
“There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard,
and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none,
he said to the gardener,
‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree
but have found none.
So cut it down.
Why should it exhaust the soil?’
He said to him in reply,
‘Sir, leave it for this year also,
and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it;
it may bear fruit in the future.
If not you can cut it down.’”

(taken from USCCB.org)

__________

Multimedia

For a powerful message about how we can forgive others as Christ forgives us, watch this clip.

Additional Activities

Here is an article on how to teach little ones (and adults too!) about the nature of forgiveness

For a romantic perspective (although it applies to any relationship) on forgiveness during Lent, please read this article.

Finally, here is a three-minute mini-retreat on God’s radical forgiveness.

Closing Prayer

Why Lord?

Beautiful Lord,

Why do You forgive us?  We shout praises to You when we sing worship.  With the same tongue we curse other people that are made in Your image.Why do You forgive us?  We say we love You and still keep sinning.  Why do You forgive us?  We spend time in prayer thanking You for your blessings and then we refuse to bless others.  Why do You forgive us?  We read our Bibles when we make time for it, but we also read other nonsense that is offensive to You.  Why do You forgive us?  We praise Jesus for His death on the cross for the atonement of our sins and then we nail Him to it again every time we trespass against You.  Why do You forgive us every single time?  I am so thankful for your endless supply of forgiveness!  I can’t fathom how You do it, for I am only one human being.  You do this for every single person!  The compassion and grace and mercy that flow from You is absolutely amazing and I love You for it!  Thank you so much for forgiving me every time I sin!  You are worthy to be praised!  Amen.

(taken from http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/7-prayers-for-forgiveness-and-repentance-2/#ixzz41TpdujME.)

Second Sunday of Lent: The Transfiguration

Published February 21, 2016 by Unprodigal Daughter

Second Sunday of Lent

Today’s Gospel tells us the story about the Transfiguration of our Lord. When we say that Jesus “transfigured,” we mean that his outward appearance changed drastically. This transfiguration took place on a mountain with the apostles Peter, James, and John, and the Old Testament figures Elijah and Moses appeared as well. But what is the significance of this event?

Let’s pretend that you are one of the apostles on the mountain with Jesus.

What are your thoughts? You see Jesus change in appearance, you hear the voice of God, and you witness two of the most important people in the history of your faith. Something important is clearly taking place.

As a Jew, you know that Moses represents the Law, and Elijah is a reminder of the importance of the prophets.  But the voice of God tells you that Jesus is His Son, so that means that Jesus is a greater prophet than anyone else, and his Law is greater than any previous Law. God is giving you a New Law and a New Covenant through Jesus.  God tells you to do what Jesus says.

Why is Jesus revealing Himself to you in this way? Are you better than the others? Are you to stay here on this mountain, make three tents and worship the Lord? The answer is no. Jesus is revealing himself in a unique and special way to strengthen your faith in order for you to handle what lies ahead. But this experience is only meant to be temporary. Jesus’ glory has not yet been achieved–not until his Exodus in Jerusalem.

Now come back to being the 21st-century-you. Have you ever experienced a taste of Jesus revealing himself to you in some sort of miraculous way? Why do you think it did not last forever? You too were given a gift that can strengthen your faith, and help you experience bliss with God. But that bliss is temporary and there is something better in the future–the blissfulness of heaven is what we have to look forward to.

Opening Prayer

At the Transfiguration, Father, You showed
Jesus in glory, a glimpse of what His disciples
would see in His risen life.

Bless us in our humanity,
with an awareness of Your presence,
leading us to share in Your divine life
even in our daily struggle.

Help us to deepen
our knowledge of the Law and the Prophets,
channels of Your grace throughout history,
and signposts for our journey.
Amen.

(taken from https://prayers4reparation.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/a-prayer-for-the-transfiguration-of-our-lord-jesus/)

Daily Readings

Reading 1 GN 15:5-12, 17-18

The Lord God took Abram outside and said,
“Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can.
Just so,” he added, “shall your descendants be.”
Abram put his faith in the LORD,
who credited it to him as an act of righteousness.

He then said to him,
“I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans
to give you this land as a possession.”
“O Lord GOD,” he asked,
“how am I to know that I shall possess it?”
He answered him,
“Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old she-goat,
a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”
Abram brought him all these, split them in two,
and placed each half opposite the other;
but the birds he did not cut up.
Birds of prey swooped down on the carcasses,
but Abram stayed with them.
As the sun was about to set, a trance fell upon Abram,
and a deep, terrifying darkness enveloped him.

When the sun had set and it was dark,
there appeared a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch,
which passed between those pieces.
It was on that occasion that the LORD made a covenant with Abram,
saying: “To your descendants I give this land,
from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River, the Euphrates.”

—–
Responsorial Psalm PS 27:1, 7-8, 8-9, 13-14

R. (1a) The Lord is my light and my salvation.

_
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

_
Hear, O LORD, the sound of my call;
have pity on me, and answer me.
Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

_
Your presence, O LORD, I seek.
Hide not your face from me;
do not in anger repel your servant.
You are my helper: cast me not off.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

_
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

———–
Reading 2 PHIL 3:17—4:1

Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers and sisters,
and observe those who thus conduct themselves
according to the model you have in us.
For many, as I have often told you
and now tell you even in tears,
conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ.
Their end is destruction.
Their God is their stomach;
their glory is in their “shame.”
Their minds are occupied with earthly things.
But our citizenship is in heaven,
and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
He will change our lowly body
to conform with his glorified body
by the power that enables him also
to bring all things into subjection to himself.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters,
whom I love and long for, my joy and crown,
in this way stand firm in the Lord.

———

Verse Before The Gospel CF. MT 17:5

From the shining cloud the Father’s voice is heard:
This is my beloved Son, hear him.

——–
Gospel LK 9:28B-36

Jesus took Peter, John, and James
and went up the mountain to pray.
While he was praying his face changed in appearance
and his clothing became dazzling white.
And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah,
who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus
that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.
Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep,
but becoming fully awake,
they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus,
“Master, it is good that we are here;
let us make three tents,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
But he did not know what he was saying.
While he was still speaking,
a cloud came and cast a shadow over them,
and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.
Then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”
After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.
They fell silent and did not at that time
tell anyone what they had seen.

(taken from USCCB.org)

Multimedia

For an additional explanation on the Transfiguration, watch this clip.

Here is a cute Lego-style video on the Transfiguration as well!

Additional Activities

For some great family ideas (or just things to do on your own) during Lent, check out this awesome website!

Closing Prayer

Holy God, mighty and immortal,
you are beyond our knowing,
yet we see your glory in the face of Jesus Christ,
whose compassion illumines the world.
Transform us into the likeness of the love of Christ,
who renewed our humanity so that we may share in his divinity,
the same Jesus Christ, our Lord,
who live and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

(taken from http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/prayers.php?id=116)

 

First Sunday of Lent: Temptation Aside, Love Remains

Published February 14, 2016 by Unprodigal Daughter

First Sunday of Lent

love-is-the-beauty-of-the-soul.-Saint-Augustine-

Temptation is a word that we have a deep misunderstanding of in our culture. When we think of temptation, we think of walking past the bakery and smelling chocolate cupcakes, or avoiding another bag of chips to count calories and watch our waistlines.  Temptation is often manifested in our minds as a something to do with bodily pleasures of consumption (food, alcohol). This is a far too simplistic way to look at it. 

For Jesus, it was much more intense than just something that makes us a little pudgy in the middle. Picture everything that has ever tempted you, and not just delicious desserts. Think instead of times when you were tempted by greed, dishonesty, lust, gluttony, power, pride, honor…the list goes on and on for all of us. 

Now imagine experiencing those all at once, for forty days, with nothing else to distract you. No job, no family, no food. A human being would go insane under those conditions. This task would have been extremely difficult for Christ, but he did it anyway, so that he could be ready to begin his ministry, teach us the Gospel, and above all, show us the Father’s Love. Jesus took on his temptation through his total trust in the Father. Our Father gives us unseen gifts, even when pleasures of the material world seem to overcome us. 

Jesus’ humanity is exemplified in the scene where he is tempted by the devil. He is just like us. We experience these temptations everyday. But each day, we cave in a little bit. If we follow the example of our Savior and put total trust in Our Creator, we can get through it, and the reward is greater than anything we have ever known. The reward is Infinite and Unconditional Love. We are never truly deserving of this reward, and the purpose of temptation is to distract us from it. Nevertheless, if we remove all of our distractions and pleasures, Love Remains. For everything that tempts you this Lenten season, remember why you are doing it. You are doing it for Love. 

Opening Prayer

I came to You late, O Beauty so ancient and new. I came to love You late. You were within me and I was outside where I rushed about wildly searching for You like some monster loose in Your beautiful world. You were with me but I was not with You. You called me, You shouted to me, You wrapped me in Your Splendour, You broke past my deafness, You bathed me in Your Light, You sent my blindness reeling. You gave out such a delightful fragrance and I drew it in and came breathing hard after You. I tasted, and it made me hunger and thirst; You touched me, and I burned to know Your Peace.

-St. Augustine of Hippo

Daily Readings

Reading 1 DT 26:4-10

Moses spoke to the people, saying:
“The priest shall receive the basket from you
and shall set it in front of the altar of the LORD, your God.
Then you shall declare before the Lord, your God,
‘My father was a wandering Aramean
who went down to Egypt with a small household
and lived there as an alien.
But there he became a nation
great, strong, and numerous.
When the Egyptians maltreated and oppressed us,
imposing hard labor upon us,
we cried to the LORD, the God of our fathers,
and he heard our cry
and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression.
He brought us out of Egypt
with his strong hand and outstretched arm,
with terrifying power, with signs and wonders;
and bringing us into this country,
he gave us this land flowing with milk and honey.
Therefore, I have now brought you the firstfruits
of the products of the soil
which you, O LORD, have given me.’
And having set them before the Lord, your God,
you shall bow down in his presence.”

____
Responsorial Psalm PS 91:1-2, 10-11, 12-13, 14-15

R. (cf. 15b) Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.
You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
say to the LORD, “My refuge and fortress,
my God in whom I trust.”
R. Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.

__
No evil shall befall you,
nor shall affliction come near your tent,
For to his angels he has given command about you,
that they guard you in all your ways.
R. Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.

__
Upon their hands they shall bear you up,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.
You shall tread upon the asp and the viper;
you shall trample down the lion and the dragon.
R. Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.

__
Because he clings to me, I will deliver him;
I will set him on high because he acknowledges my name.
He shall call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in distress;
I will deliver him and glorify him.
R. Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.

___
Reading 2 ROM 10:8-13

Brothers and sisters:
What does Scripture say?
The word is near you,
in your mouth and in your heart
—that is, the word of faith that we preach—,
for, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved.
For one believes with the heart and so is justified,
and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.
For the Scripture says,
No one who believes in him will be put to shame.
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek;
the same Lord is Lord of all,
enriching all who call upon him.
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

___
Verse Before The Gospel MT 4:4B

One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.

___
Gospel LK 4:1-13

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan
and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days,
to be tempted by the devil.
He ate nothing during those days,
and when they were over he was hungry.
The devil said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
command this stone to become bread.”
Jesus answered him,
“It is written, One does not live on bread alone.”
Then he took him up and showed him
all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant.
The devil said to him,
“I shall give to you all this power and glory;
for it has been handed over to me,
and I may give it to whomever I wish.
All this will be yours, if you worship me.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“It is written:
You shall worship the Lord, your God,
and him alone shall you serve.”
Then he led him to Jerusalem,
made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
throw yourself down from here, for it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,
and:
With their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“It also says,
You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”
When the devil had finished every temptation,
he departed from him for a time.

(readings taken from USCCB.org)

__________________________

Multimedia

Happy Feast Day of St. Valentine! Continuing the theme of LOVE, here are two clips that tell us about St. Valentine!

Additional Activity

Show your love for your family with the following activity:

Lenten Family Mealtime

In addition to “Fish Fridays” designate one evening a week to prepare a meal together. Assign a different dish or task to each family member. Before starting, discuss how each family member is giving to the others—giving time, effort, and care to nourish the entire family to go out and do God’s will. Begin with a prayer of thanks and petition. 

(taken from http://www.loyolapress.com/lent-at-home.htm)

Closing Prayer

Prayer Of Thanks For God’s Amazing Love

Thank You Father that You have made Yourself known to humanity through the Word of God. But forgive us Lord, for we are a rebellious and prideful race and yet You loved us so much that You sent Your only begotten Son to lay down His sinless life as the perfect sacrifice for our sin.. so that by that death and resurrection, all who believe on Him might not perish, but have everlasting life.

Thank You that in Your love You chose to communicate with us, by the word, by Your holy apostles and prophets and revealed to us Your glorious plan of salvation, so that whoever believes on the Lord Jesus Christ would not be condemned – but whosoever does not believe in the only begotten Son of God is condemned already – because he has not believed on the sinless Son of Your love – Who loved us so much that He willingly went to the cross to redeem us from the penalty of sin, and reconcile us back to You eternal.

Thank You that Your Word to us is like a perfumed love-letter that has been forwarded from heaven to all Your children – in love. Thank You for the truth it contains and thank You for all Your perfect and unconditional love and grace towards Your children. May we assimilate these truths deep within the bowels of our soul and glorify Your name for the unconditional love that You have seen fit to pour our on all Your children..by grace, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ – in Whose name we pray,

Amen

(taken from http://prayer.knowing-jesus.com/Prayers-about-the-Love-of-God)