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Monday of the Second Week in Lent

Scripture Readings

I enjoy baking various breads, cakes and muffins. One thing I have learned, from both instruction and experience, is the importance of carefully measuring ingredients.  The flour used in a recipe should be spooned into the measuring cup, not scooped from the container. Once full, it is important to level off the top to provide the exact amount that is required. Fortunately, God does not measure His mercy or compassion in this way. Jesus describes God’s measuring as being so abundant that it “poured” onto our laps.  Jesus calls us to be like God- abundant and overflowing with mercy and compassion for others.

Friday of the First Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

How does fasting help us live better in other parts of our lives? That's a question many of us have this time of year, when the stomach/soul connection doesn't particularly seem self-evident. I am reminded, though, of a Friday in Lent at the parish I attended when I lived in Virginia. I remember getting into a long, drawn-out argument about Catholic social teaching, money and poverty with a fellow member of the Body of Christ. Oh, we made each other angry, time and time again.

Thursday of the First Week in Lent

Scripture Readings

Today’s readings reiterate to us the power of prayer. We hear of Esther who begs the Lord to come to her rescue. In the psalm we sing “Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.” And finally, in the Gospel, Matthew reminds us that what we are to seek and to knock and then the Lord will respond. We cannot escape the message that God answers our prayers!

Have you ever been talking to someone and then you can very clearly tell they have stopped listening? How do you react? Often I think this leads us to shut down - to stop talking to them – why waste our breath? When I think of this example I wonder, which person am I? 

I think many of us feel like we are the person talking and God is the one who has stopped listening, so we start to tell God less and then eventually shut God out completely. But I wonder – could it be the other way around? Could it be that God is the one trying to talk to us and we are the ones who have stopped listening? The big difference here is that God does not get defensive and frustrated and stop talking to us. God instead continues to share Himself with us, revealing God’s nature to us, moment by moment, and we are the ones who have to take action and begin to listen again.  

I would like to hope that we can all think of at least one, and hopefully many, examples of when God answered a prayer for us. Think of some of those times today. Pray about them. Thank God for them.  And then reflect on this - when we know that God is listening, why then do we find it so hard to commit to daily prayer? Why then is it a challenge to carve out that time to purposefully talk with God? 

It may be that we are too busy, perhaps we don’t want to hear the answer that God has for us or perhaps it is like we had talked about at the recent marriage retreat – perhaps we have fallen out of knowing with God. When we are not intentionally committing time to get to know God better, we are not seeing who God truly is, and we therefor lose sight of God’s work in our lives or perhaps can’t hear His voice at all anymore.  

Today and throughout this Lent, recommit yourself to prayer. Take part in the discipleship challenge.  Go to adoration. Go on a retreat. Intentionally make time to talk to God! And at the same time, be prepared to listen for God’s answer – not a passive hearing of what God has to say, but an active listening. And finally – thank God. Thank God for always listening, even those times where we have stopped talking.     

- Amanda Grimm 

Wednesday of the First Week in Lent

Scripture Readings

How often in making a decision do we seek a sign?  Discerning a choice, especially between two seemingly good things, can be difficult.  Sometimes we get a push toward the choice by the word of a friend, or a verse of Scripture that keeps appearing in our prayer.  At other times we seek a sign, and fail to recognize the one that we have been given.

Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

I love the Our Father, and there is so much to love in it.

Monday of the First Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

How do you expect your day to go? Do you already know who you will spend your day with? Have you already checked off in your mind which encounters you look forward to and which you will try to avoid? It's human to think this way. Neatly anticipating interactions gives us a certain amount of security. But what if we were surprised? What if we put on the mind of Christ—truly—and went on about our day with no preconceptions. What if we saw Jesus in every single person we meet today?

Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Scripture Readings

It is Lent.  We are getting deeper into a season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  During this time it is easy to get distracted by what we aren’t doing.  There are habits, foods, or drinks from which we are fasting and that is good.  However, sometimes I don’t think we explore enough prepositions.  Not only are there the things from which I fast, there are things for which I fast.  This broader view can be summarized to include fasting for prayer, fasting for charity, and fasting for obedience. 

Friday after Ash Wednesday

Scripture Readings

When I was on a contemplative retreat a few years ago, I had a conversation with one of the monks about contemplation and the spiritual life. At that time, I had in mind that contemplation was supposed to be about attaining greater and greater spiritual heights. I supposed that I would find God and fall in love with God more and more through my own silent prayer and my time spent thinking about God.

Thursday after Ash Wednesday

Scripture Readings

Today’s readings show us the type of life we can expect to live if we place our trust in God’s providence.  In Deuteronomy we read the original life-or-death question from Moses:  Follow God to life and prosperity, or do it yourself and face certain death.  With a choice so plain, it’s surprising that anyone would choose not to follow the Lord.  Yet so many people do not follow.  Why?

Ash Wednesday

Scripture Readings

Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2)  These words from St. Paul’s intone a sense of urgency to the people of Corinth.  An even greater urgency can be found in the first reading from the prophet Joel, “Even now, say the Lord, return to me with your whole heart. (Joel 2:12)  This urgency is recognized by many of us today as we turn out in large numbers to attend Ash Wednesday services.  It is ironic then that this sign of the cross in ash on our foreheads marks us so outwardly when the readings strongly push for inward conversion.

Tuesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

God does not accept bribes (we read in Sirach 35 today). Is that a relief to hear or a disappointment? We cannot “pay” or work our way into God’s kingdom. We also read that God is a God of justice, who “knows no favorites.” If you think you’re on God’s “good side,” this may be difficult to hear. How often do we believe that if we are on our best behavior we deserve to be rewarded by God; or when tragedy or bad times fall upon us, we start to
wonder and question what we did to deserve this lot in life, “am I being punished?”.

Monday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

William Holman Hunt painted a beautiful picture “The Light of the World” (1853) based on the verse from Revelations that states, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Rev 3:20) Today’s readings remind us that Christ stands ready at the door to enter our lives and shine His light on our world. We need to listen, open and respond to His invitation. Only then can we experience the fullness of His grace.

Saturday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Pride makes us do funny things. I've pretended to get a phone call one time on a Chicago street because I realized I was going the wrong way and didn't want to just turn around in the middle of the block. I've pretended to scratch my head instead of letting a stranger know I accidentally waved to him or her. Of course running into a spiderweb no one else can see is impossible to play off as you pat your self down like you've been lit by an invisible fire. Pride's consequences go further though as we choose sin in order to seem like we have it all together, even though the Lord clearly tells us these words in Sirach today, "Avoid all evil."

Friday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

In our era of Facebook, the concept of "friends" is interesting to ponder. Some people on Facebook "friend" anyone who requests a friendship with them; others are much more guarded, and "friend" only people who they really know well, because of privacy concerns. Either way, more than one cultural commentator has said that social networking seems to be changing the way we see our relationships with each other. We generally have looser connections with each other, but we have connections to more people. I think it is somewhat strange, actually, that I know more about what a good friend from my high school days who lives in another state is doing this morning than I do about my next door neighbors.

Thursday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Reflections

When I started learning to cook, I was amazed at the prevalence of salt in recipes.   I expected salt to factor heavy in a good steak, homemade potato chips, and soup.  But I had no idea that a chocolate chip cookie without salt is just … missing something.  Oatmeal cereal just isn’t right without a sprinkle of salt, even though I can’t taste even a hint of saltiness.  I had heard people say that salt ‘brings out the other flavors,’ but the first few times I tasted these subtle salt-effects, I was surprised.

Wednesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

Every person is made in the image and likeness of God.  Also, every person has been given a set of gifts that are given to them for the benefit of the others.  So why is it then that we think we have a right to block others from using their God given gifts?  Have you ever heard someone say to another disciple, I would not minister in that manner?  There are of course many valid reasons to draw limits.  However, the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few.

Tuesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

What are we to make of the fact that so often in the Old Testament we are admonished to fear the Lord yet in the New Testament Jesus instructs us repeatedly not to fear? Is this some kind of contradiction between the Old Testament and the New? Is there any way to reconcile these two apparently incommensurate teachings?

Monday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

"All wisdom comes from the Lord and with him it remains forever." This is the opening verse of today's reading from the book of Sirach. It establishes God as the creator and eternal keeper of all wisdom. The wisdom this passage speaks of is divine wisdom (of the heart) rather than human wisdom (of the intellect). It equates divine wisdom with God's revelation of Godself. All of creation, including humanity, is instilled with this divine wisdom and, therefore, a revelation of who God is.

Memorial of Saint Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr

Scripture Readings

I have a bad habit, well several bad habits, but one in particular came to mind when I read today’s Gospel.  Remarkably, I can take the simplest of things and over complicate them into muddled messes.  I’m sure others can attest to this.  Maybe they have experienced it in the midst of a planning session when I have proposed a convoluted solution and upon noticing confused looks around me, timidly offer, “Maybe I’m overthinking all of this.”  We can all do this with the Lord as well.

Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle

Scripture Readings

When the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.  God’s glory is constantly being shown to us.  Sometimes our eyes or minds are not always attuned to the wonder God has placed before us.  Or perhaps we recognize the beauty but we do not attribute that grandeur as coming from God.