Tag Archives: Lent

Have to Get It Right!

Matthew 5:48   “You therefore must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Want to know what you need to do (and, if you are anything like me, you’re probably not doing it very well at all.)  Read Matthew Chapter 5.  You know, the one with the beatitudes, plucking out eyes and cutting off hands, and anger, and adultery, and divorce, and swearing, and retaliation, and loving one’s enemies.  One can’t read this Chapter without realizing what little worms we are when it comes to the whole perfection thing.  I read Chapter 5 before and after going to confession.  This and Chapter 25 are all I need to trot myself off to the confessional.  Add the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and I can go all gooey on the inside contemplating my long stay in Purgatory.

And yet. . .

God gives us grace and forgiveness and mercy to help us to prioritize the pursuit of holiness in our lives.  Pursuing holiness begins with having a strong, true, and ardent love for God and for our neighbor.  It means praying and fasting and making each word and act and little daily sacrifice the means of proving our love for our Savior who died on the cross for Love of us.  An effective love can transform a dry, cold heart into a furnace of charity.  Then we can burn with Love of God even while we must live here below.  I hope you, like myself, pursue this ardent charity.

We got to get this right.

“Lord, with your loving care, guide the penance we have begun.  Help us to persevere with love and sincerity.  Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.”  Liturgy of the Hours: Evening Prayer for the Friday after Ash Wednesday.



Leave a comment

Filed under Almsgiving, Beatitudes, Catholic, Charity, Faith, Fasting, Gospel, Holiness, Liturgy of the Hours, Love, New Testament

Righteousness – A Word Study

Just finished reading Chapters 3 and 4 of Matthew’s Gospel.  There is so much there that it would take pages to discuss.  It is about His baptism by John and His temptation in the desert.  Satan was tempting Jesus’ identity as the Son of God.  He wants Him to embrace an earthly and political mission and thus subvert from His real mission of suffering and dying for our salvation.

Unlike us, Jesus could not have sinned at any time during His earthly life.  His “temptations” were entirely the suggestions of the devil and had nothing to do with any kind of inner struggle or disordered desire of a fallen nature.  We, of course, experience temptation because of our fallen nature.  However, just because He couldn’t sin, doesn’t mean that He didn’t show us how the devil should be treated when he comes around with his “suggestions.”

According to St. John Chrysostom, Jesus gives us a perfect example of Christian obedience.  Earthly life is our wilderness.  Our goal is to get to the “land” of heaven.  This life is like a probationary period for us.  God wills that we  overcome temptations (from the world, the flesh, and the devil) through the practice of penance and obedience to God’s word.   We must desire Christ’s humility.  And this is how we can increase the gift of righteousness:  penance, obedience, and humility.

Righteousness is a gift from God.  The word itself is used 7 times in Matthew and 85 times in the rest of the New Testament.  Christ first gives us this gift in Baptism when we are restored in our relationship as an adopted son or daughter of God.  It always means (from the Greek) the uprightness and faithfulness of God and His people.  It is part of the unique covenant vocabulary that runs throughout the old and new testaments.  God’s righteousness is because He is holy and is revealed as He takes care of Israel.  Now, He has demonstrated His righteousness through the saving work of His Son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus wants us to be righteous, like He and His Father, are righteous.

“Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you men of double mind.  Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will exalt you.”  Jn 4: 7-8, 10

And, I might add, fill you with righteousness.

Leave a comment

Filed under Almsgiving, Catholic, Faith, Fasting, Gospel, Holiness, James, Jesus, Lent, New Testament

Dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return. (Gn 3: 19)

About three years ago, my husband and I began to read the Gospels, (out loud) two chapters at a time, on Ash Wednesday.  We found that by doing so we could read all four Gospels by Holy Saturday.  The first time, we continued after Easter and read until the end of the NT.  Then we began the New Testament again and read it through 2 chapters a night.  Then, we began to read the Old Testament, the same way.  We are only to the end of Wisdom, so we have set it aside and began the Gospels again tonight.

Everyone else reads other books for their spiritual reading during Lent.  We just stick with the Gospels.  Doing so, we have had great Lents for the past three years.

So after dinner tonight, we began.  Matthew Chapters 1 and 2.  What is Jesus’ ancestry and where was He born?  I especially like the verses about St. Joseph dreaming of angels.  He was such a man of faith!  That we would have just a bit of his faith and humility, we too could dream of angels.

Finally, today’s liturgy is an invitation to penance.  The predominant thought of the day should be that while physical penance is okay, we need spiritual penance–humility, recognition of our faults, a steadfast heart, and the reformation of our lives.  The Lord wants us to be converted to Him with all our hearts, in fasting, and in weeping, and in mourning.  He wants us to “rend our hearts; not just our garments.”

Lord, protect us in our struggle against evil.  As we begin the discipline of Lent, make this day holy by our self-denial.  Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  (Liturgy of the Hours for Ash Wednesday-Evening Prayer)

Leave a comment

Filed under 40 Days for Life, Fasting, Gospel, Jesus, Lent, Liturgy of the Hours, New Testament, Old Testament, Sacred Scripture

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

Imagine this.

Jesus is sitting on the grass on the side of the mountain.  He has His eyes closed.  He is hungry and tired.  Then, He opens His eyes and looks out at the multitude of people who have followed Him here.  He smiles.  He already knows what is coming.  These thousands of people are also hungry and tired.

His apostles are very worried.  They know that these people need food, however they don’t have the resources to supply them with it.  They come to Jesus and urge Him to send the crowds away so that they can find food in the villages.  Jesus smiles again.  “No, Philip,” He says.  “These people would faint from hunger before they could get very far.  Let’s feed them ourselves.”

Philip wonders how that is going to happen.  He shakes his head in disbelief as he looks at His Lord who is still sitting calmly and smiling.  Then, Andrew sees a young boy with a basket that has five loaves and two fishes.  He shrugs and brings the young boy with his basket to Jesus. “Lord, we have this little bit of food.  But look out there.  How can we feed so many with so little?”

Jesus rises and still smiling says, “Tell everyone to sit down in groups of 50 or so.  Then, give me those loaves and fishes.”

He blesses the food.  The Apostles serve it.  The people eat and are satisfied.  The leftovers are collected in 12 baskets.  And, one of the greatest miracles of the New Testament has just occurred.

This miracle was preparation for the more startling miracle of the Holy Eucharist.  Jesus would become our Bread to nourish our souls.  Jesus is the Bread of Life, the cause of our joy on this Laetare Sunday, our delight, always at our disposal to appease our hunger.  Jesus feeds us spiritually, of course, but He also doesn’t neglect our physical needs.  If we are tormented by hunger, we aren’t going to be able to apply ourselves to the things of the spirit.

Just as Jesus provided for the 5 thousand, we must be solicitous of the needs of others and provide as we can for those needs.  If a brother or sister is in want of daily food and we say, “”Go in Peace’. . .yet give them not those things that are necessary for the body, what shall it profit?” (Jas 2: 15-16)

Finally, there is no challenge we face, no difficulty that we must overcome, no complicated circumstance in our life for which God doesn’t have the solution.  Wherever we are today, He has seen it for all eternity.  We give him our small basket of practically nothing and He performs a miracle for us.  We have to give Him everything in our power, holding nothing back, and He sets a rich and abundant table for us

He will “give us this day our daily bread.”.

Leave a comment

Filed under Catholic, Charity, Eucharist and Mass, Holiness

The Transfiguration: A Vision of Hope

Jesus’ Transfiguration was all about sustainability for the Apostles.  He knew that they were going to witness some horrific things in Jerusalem shortly.  So, He showed them in a very dramatic way a vision of His glory; a vision of hope.  After the Resurrection and Pentecost, when they understood, they could hope that they would one day enjoy the glory of the full Beatific Vision once they had walked their own Via Dolorosa.

The Transfiguration neatly bridges the Old Covenant and the New: God’s love and justice to His love and mercy.  Along with Elijah and Moses, the “cloud of glory,” the Holy Spirit, which guided the Israelites in the desert, appears to the three apostles.  Jesus’ appearance shines bright and God the Father proclaims His Son to them.  Then, He says something else.  He says, “Listen to Him.”

I have read that Peter, James, and John glimpsed Jesus’ soul on Mt. Thabor.  They were given a small insight, as it were, into the Beatific vision.  They had been shaken by the announcement of His passion, so Jesus permitted some rays from His blessed soul to shine forth for a few minutes.  Jesus was allowing them to see the close connection between His suffering and death and His glory.  Our Divine Master was teaching them and us that it is impossible to reach the glory of the Transfiguration without passing through the suffering.  “Listen to Him.”

Look around you.  We are surrounded by sin and death: millions of pre-born humans murdered; the homosexual lifestyle promoted and celebrated; Christians persecuted and martyred; wars waged on many continents. Destruction is everywhere; sin abounds everywhere.  And, sin disfigures the soul.

Grace, however, transfigures the soul.  One lesson of the Transfiguration is that what has been disfigured by sin cannot regain its supernatural beauty (grace) except by purifying suffering.  Then, and only then, can we live the promise of Romans 8:18.  “For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us.”

On Thabor, after God the Father speaks, the vision disappears.  The apostles see no one but Jesus.  They come down the mountain with no one but Jesus.  This is another lesson of the Transfiguration.  God consoles us and gives us hope, yes; however, we must always see Him alone; Jesus alone.  He must suffice for us.  We must “Listen to Him.”

The time has come for us to repeat, “Jesus alone!” and to come down from Thabor with Him to follow Him, even to Calvary; especially to Calvary.  He is our All.  He alone suffices.

The colloquy from the Divine Intimacy for the second Sunday of Lent ends with this prayer that I share with you now as we continue our Lenten journey.  “The light and glory of Thabor encourage me.  Thank you, O Lord, for having allowed me, if only for a few moments, to contemplate Your splendor and to enjoy Your Divine Consolation.  Fortified and encouraged by this, I come down from this mountain to follow You, You alone to Calvary.”

I will listen to You.  You are enough!

Leave a comment

Filed under Catholic, Faith, Gospel, Holy Spirit, James, Jesus

Jesus and Temptation

Jesus was tempted because He willed it.  Wow!  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way for us.  Because of concupiscence, we are constantly tempted.  In fact, if we aren’t being tempted we’re probably dead.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the devil doesn’t exist.  He still goes about the world like a roaring lion devouring souls.  Jesus showed us how to do battle with the devil, however.

Jesus had been fasting rigorously for 40 days when the devil showed up.  So Jesus was very, very hungry and the devil wanted Him to turn some stones into bread.  Jesus responds with something that we quote all the time in our house.  “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  I love this, because here is the Word of God; the bread of life really sending a smashing volley back to Lucifer.  So Jesus shows us that immersion in His Word and partaking of His Body and Blood at frequent Holy Communion, is a good offense against the devil during times of temptation.

The devil wasn’t finished yet.  Unable to tempt Him with bread; he tempts Him with power.  This fails, too.  Jesus knows that a miracle such as being borne on the hands of angels if He cast Himself down from the high place, would win the admiration and the enthusiasm of the people; but that is not to be the Way for Jesus.  His Way will be the way of the Cross, so he very resolutely rejects this temptation to pride.  Jesus shows us that the way to conquer temptations to pride and vanity is by choosing what humiliates us in the sight of others.

Finally, the devil, undaunted by this second failed attempt, offers the King of Kings the whole world with all its riches, if He would just bow down and worship him (the devil.)  Jesus replies “The Lord thy God shalt thou adore and Him only shalt thou serve.”  Smack down!  Jesus: 3.  The devil: 0.  Jesus is showing us that a heart that is firmly anchored in God will not be drawn away from His service by attraction to or envy of worldly goods.

What’s the final lesson?  The devil exists; however we have weapons for combat.  First, remember that our virtue does not consist of being exempt from temptations, but in being able to overcome them.  Second, we must have great confidence in God.  We must entrust everything to Him:  our whole life and everything in it.  Thirdly, and finally, turn to God with prayer and fasting and use faithfully the grace that God always gives when we are being tempted.  He won’t let us be tempted beyond our strength to resist especially if we trust in Him and His love and mercy.

Remember, He has commanded His angels to watch over all our paths, and they will bear us up in their hands lest our feet strike against a stone.”   What more can we ask for?

1 Comment

Filed under Catholic, Christian, Faith, Fasting, Holiness, Holy Spirit, Lent, Love, Prayer, Sacraments, temptation, Uncategorized


During any reading of the Passion, there are two things that touch my heart.  Yesterday, was no different.

First, I always cringe when we are “the Crowd” and I have to read the part that says “Crucify Him.”  Second, I am always struck by the utter desolation that is in the cry of Jesus.  “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?”

About the first:  my sins crucified my Lord.  And that is part of the reason that I cringe.  I might not have been there, on the scene, but I was there.  When His arms were stretched out, He saw me and He saw every sin I would ever commit.  Yes, He died for me. Personally.

About the second:  Life is a spiritual roller coaster.  We are either in a period of Consolation or in a period of Desolation or somewhere in between at any given point of our lives.  The periods of Consolation are awesome and a time of great spiritual joy.  The periods of Desolation are dry and sterile.  Sometimes when I am there, I don’t think I will ever experience great spiritual joy again.  Then I remember Jesus on the Cross.  “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?”  And, that gives me strength to begin the ascent again, up the hill of the roller coaster, to a period of Consolation.

I am going to be making my weekend Ignatius Retreat: Consoling the Heart of Jesus beginning on Thursday evening.  & I will not be back on here again until Easter Monday.

I hope this Holy Week is a time of great consolation to you.  That’s my plan for me.



1 Comment

Filed under Catholic, Easter, Holiness, Lent, Palm Sunday, Resurrection, Sacrifice, suffering, The Cross, Triduum