Friday, 27 February 2015

Lent 2015 - Five

Second Sunday of Lent - Transfiguration

Mountain tops and high places were favorite places that ancient people chose to worship God. Because they wanted to draw closer to God, they chose high places because they rose up from the earth into the heavens where they believed God dwelt. And because they also believed that bad things, like storms and floods and famines, were inflicted on them by God because he was angry with them, they would offer up sacrifices of various kinds, even human life, to appease God's anger.

Abraham, who is the father of faith in the One True God, comes out of just such a world view. God chooses Abraham to begin a transformation of such misconceptions by first rejecting the belief that God wanted human life to be sacrificed. It begins here with the story of Abraham and his son Isaac, which is the first reading in today's Liturgy of the Word.

However, high places remained as important places to go in search of communion with God even at the time of Christ. Our passage begins: Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. What follows is an even deeper revealing of the nature of true worship of God. Peter, James and John have the vale of unseeing lifted so they are able to see and experience what takes place in true worship. A break through, beyond human imagining, is made. Jesus brings us from here to there, from our mountain top into the sanctuary of heaven, into the presence of God. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus.

Today, our supreme high place/mountain top experience is the Mass. When Mass begins, Jesus releases us from our earthly boundaries and takes us up into the sanctuary of God's presence. Even though for us the vale of unseeing remains, like Peter, James and John, we too are there. But sometimes we may be given a peek through the vale. Often, while saying Mass, I have a strong sense of the presences of the holy ones gathered around the altar with us; a sense of Jesus' presence holding my hands in his as we raise up the sacred host in consecration.

But this glimpse through the vale can be experienced in our own personal prayer times as well. We would call this an experience of the grace of consolation in the prayer of contemplation. Our daily life as well as our life of faith are lived out here, in the city of man. But it is by withdrawing with Jesus to that high place of prayer and contemplation, that the inspiration for our life of faith is empowered. Whatever be the glimpse through the vale we may have been granted, we come down with His Voice alive in our hearts. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”

Prayer of Contemplation

One of the goals of the Prayer of Contemplation is to encounter the Word, to hear God's Word, so that it can form and guide us in accordance with his will. But his Word can come to us at any time and place. It is important that we discern that is it God speaking, and that we are listening. Keeping a Record of Prayer and Word, is most import to this experience. This can be a companion to Journaling, or a separate place of recording. The following are the elements found in a Record of Prayer and Word

On This Day
When and where did I encounter this Word, in a passage or other?
Record the text reference or where it’s found
As I heard this Word these feelings emerged …..
Text Message
In yours words you heard it say …….
Is there a connection with other messages?
Going Forward
Are there steps to take after having listened?

Father Thomas Rosica of Salt & Light, has an excellent Lenten series which has both a written meditation as well as video talk. Here is the LINK.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Lent 2015 - Four

First Sunday of Lent - Temptation

Jesus is the "New Adam". The first Adam was seduced by the lies of Satan to believe that he did not need God, he could create his own paradise. But instead of a new paradise resulting from man's creative efforts, there ensued a pattern of the rise and fall of kingdom upon kingdom, each one falling into chaos and ruin. 

The prophets of the Old Testament were sent by God to announce that God had a plan for the redemption of Adam's decedents; not to simply to bring them back to the original paradise, but to bring them into a New Creation, a New Paradise, beyond anything the human mind could ever imagine. But as it was at the first, this would be a choice, to enter or not.

A New Adam is sent into the world in the person of God's Son. He would not only announce God's plan, he would enter the human condition totally, so that by walking the walk, he would lead the way into this New Creation. Immediately, Satan sets upon him with the full ferocity of his arsenal of lies. It is here that our Lenten journey begins.

The Three Temptations

"You do not need him and his ship of fools. He is only a man, long dead; merely a story made up by his followers, who continue to sail off into a sea of delusion. Leave him. I will show you the truth about your existence.

Stones into bread. Where is the scientific evidence to prove anything he says is true?

God will save you and protect you. Listen to the voices of those poor believers, crying out in their suffering, as they die in torturous pain. Where is their Saviour now?

Worship me, the voice of Reason, and the world will be yours. Reason alone can save you. Let me be the inspiration behind your thinking. Is it not reason alone that has built this great world you now live in?
Matthew 4:1-11

What sets us apart in the hierarchy of living beings on this earth is our ability to think, to reason, to make choices in the way we act. Not only do we  know, we know we know, and this is by God's design. Perhaps we could say it is a way God designed so that we could share in the wonder and awe of his glory. God's design and the purpose he assigns to it is TRUTH. Anything that contradicts God's design is false and destined to fail. Jesus said … “If you hold to my teaching …  you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jo 8:31

At his trial before Pilate Jesus announces, "For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." And in a voice of irony Pilate replies, "What is truth?" Jo 18:37-38.  Indeed, to discover the answer to that question is why all of us are born into this world. Each day science discovers some new working of creation. But this is only part of the truth. The whole truth cannot be discovered by science alone. What cannot be learned by reason alone is taught by revelation and known by faith: ... "I have come into the world, to testify to the truth." Satan knows this well, and his intention is to be a wedge between faith and reason, between God and man, so that we never learn the TRUTH.

Lent is meant to be a time devoted to discovering the TRUTH, especially the part of truth that comes from the VOICE of God. "Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." Essential to this work of discovery is the prayer of discernment. Sorting through the cacophony of voices we hear every day to discover which Voice speaks the TRUTH, and to learn who's voice is influencing us at this time is the work of our Lenten prayer.


  • Discernment in Jesuit spirituality: LINK
  • Prayer of Examine: LINK
  • Fr. Robert Barron: Atheism and Philosophy: LINK

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Lent 2015 - Three

The Temptation Is To Abandon the Ship

In the book of Genesis, chapter three, we have the account of Adam and Eve being expelled from the Garden of Eden. They have lost the right to dwell in God's presence by their own choice. Having listened to the lies of the Deceiver, and believing they can make their own paradise, God sends them off into the world, alone, relying solely on their own resources to make their own paradise.

As they are leaving paradise, God tells them what futility awaits them, what kind of paradise their toiling, hands will make, and what awaits them in the end - ashes. Both they and whatever greatness they may achieve, will in the end, be reduced to ashes. In verse 19, God says: By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Gen 3:19

The essence of the GREAT LIE, which has forever deceived humanity, is this, "you can make it on your own, you do not need God". Today we see the effects of that lie at work in the Church. People are saying that they do not need to be on board within the Church. They believe they are quite sufficient in themselves to live a good life. And so abandoning their nets, those instruments of grace they have been given, they no longer sail with Christ in his ship of salvation, which is the Church.

Ash Wednesday begins again the days of Lent, a time of sober self-examination. It begins with ashes, recalling those words in Genesis, "... for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” We want to recognize and understand to what extent the Great Lie may be influencing our lives. First and foremost we face the question, have I abandon the Church and Christ's presence guiding me, and those nets, the instruments of grace, which are the works of salvation? Vital to that question is my firm attachment to the Eucharist.

Beyond that, we recall the occasion of the disciples failure to net a catch and Jesus instruction;
“Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking Lk 5:4
Great spiritual wisdom has been seeded within the Church to teach and guide us in our faith life. But unless we seek out this wisdom for our instruction, our efforts to grow in holiness may well be in vain. And so we ask, "In what ways am I listening to the wealth of instruction found within the Church?"

As Lent begins, lets us welcome Jesus word to us: “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

Monday, 16 February 2015

Lent 2015 - Two

A ship at sea is a very common image used to represent the Church. The fact is that as Jesus began his public ministry in the region of the Sea of Galilee, boats and the sea where often the setting for his first encounters with the people. The first apostles first heard Jesus' call while in their boats by the sea.
 Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. Mtt. 4:18

Jesus used a boat as his pulpit, teaching the people from a boat at the sea shore. He taught Peter the power of real faith as he rescued him from sinking into the sea. He demonstrated his authority over creation as he calmed the raging sea. A beautiful and rich symbolism emerges from these first encounters with Jesus. The sea is wounded humanity, bountiful fishing is evangelization, the unsinkable ship is the Church, salvation is Jesus rescuing us from the sea, and our destiny is to cling to Jesus, sailing with him through the storms until we reach the safe harbor of his kingdom. 

During these days of Lent, we will employ this symbolism as an instrument of discernment - carefully accessing the state of our spiritual life; am I securely aboard the Ship with Jesus or floundering in a stormy sea of confusion and unbelief? As I troll the seas of this world, have I cast my nets on the wrong side of the boat, gaining an empty net of frustration, or with Jesus guidance, on the starboard side, filling them with grace and truth?

This Ship which is the Church
is about to launch into the sea
which is the days of Lent,
into the turbulent waters of ours hearts,
that Jesus may calm our storms
by his word of authority,
and with his arm of mercy,
draw us up from beneath the waves
of our guilt into his Ship called Mercy,
to sail at his side into the harbor of Salvation.

Leave your tattered and empty nets behind
and aboard with Jesus,
sail with him into waters teeming with graces 
waiting to be caught.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Lent 2015 - One

Jesus entered into a ship, and sat in the sea ... he taught them many things by parables. Mk 4:1
A Journey In Prayer Through Lent

Traditionally Lent has three main components, or disciplines that make up our Lenten observance:  

Our focus for these next posts will be on that of PRAYER. Our experience of life may be thought of in the context of the passage of time. Psalm 90:2 describes it in this way: Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

But the gospel reveals a different vision of our life. Yes, life is a passage through time, and trouble and sorrows do accompany it, and we do fly away in the end, but not into nothingness as the atheists would have it. Our brief few years spent in this tiny corner of the universe are a beginning not the end.

"What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived" -- the things God has prepared for those who love him-- 1 Cor. 2:9

Self denial and Works of Charity are the outward manifestation of the true character of our religious life, but it is Prayer that is the source and inspiration for our actions. The power we need to live a fruitful Christian life is channeled into our minds and hearts through Prayer.

The gospel text for the First Sunday of Lent is the account of Jesus' forty days of prayer in the wilderness. The Spirit takes Jesus into the wilderness, apart from everyone, into an intense experience of prayer, to prepare him for work the Father has sent him to accomplish. Different translation describe it as;  Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness <> Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness <> the Spirit impelled Him into the wilderness.

Jesus' praying is a dynamic experience, a communion in the Spirit, a dialogue with the heavenly realm - and in this wilderness experience, a personal confrontation with Satan himself. It is in and through this "communion in prayer" that the will - the plan of the Father, is revealed to Jesus. This way of prayer is the model for our own prayer. The Spirit desires to take us into this same dynamic experience and dialogue with the heavenly realm, where we too learn the will of the Father for us.

Here are some suggestions in preparation for prayer in Lent

Calendar for Lent

A calendar showing the days of Lent, including the scripture text references for each day, can be a helpful organizer. It helps keep track of any missed days, as well as highlighting days of special insight.

When and Where

Appointing a time and place for prayer protects prayer time from the danger of being swept aside by our many other demands and interests.


“What just happened?” Prayer is an experience. This means we should be able to describe it as if telling another about our experience. Over time a more coherent understanding of the progress of my spiritual life begins to emerge.


Our primary scripture source will be the daily Lenten texts. Praying scripture is not the same as studying scripture. When someone is speaking to us we want to listen to what they are saying. “Speak Lord, your servant is listening”. The principal place for hearing scripture is in the Liturgy of the Word.

Another source of both written text and audio can be found on the USCCB web site, on the “Daily Mass Readings” page, which has both audio and written rendering of the scripture for each day.


Word on Fire, Fr. Barron’s daily reflection:

the WORD Among Us, for Lent:

Featured Videos

Featured Videos.