Monday, 26 February 2018

Lenten Series

This is a special series of posts follows a journey in prayer through the days of Lent and Holy Week using the Ignatian Approach to Contemplation
HolyWeek 2


Saturday, 24 February 2018

Second Sunday of Lent - 2018

From the Subway Window I saw My Future 

 We know that people in ancient times, in their religious worship of their gods, practiced human sacrifice – sometime of their enemies – sometime of their very own, even their children. These sacrifices were meant to appease the gods, so the gods would act favorably toward the worshipers. Israel was familiar with these religious practices – and could be susceptible to these erroneous ideas of God. So, God chose Abraham, to teach him, and all who would become believers in the One true God, that He did not want humans to be sacrificed.

God taught this important lesson to Abraham in this dramatic way, as we have just seen in today’s first reading recorded in the book of Genesis. Gen. 22:1ff  God does want man’s allegiance and unconditional trust, just not his possessions. God created us with the intention of letting us share in His glory. But before we could be entrusted with such a glorious destiny, we had to learn humility – otherwise, we too might become corrupted with pride as did happen to some the angels God had created.

In St. Peter’s first letter we read: “… But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.' Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives in reverent fear during your temporary stay on earth.” 1Pt. 1:16 - Leviticus 11:44.

And when we are holy as the Father is holy, what will we look like?

    "Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them." (Mark 9.2-10)

The Transfiguration is a glimpse into what awaits us. St. Paul tells it this way: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed it to us by the Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” 1 Cor. 2:9

Paul says: … “None of the rulers of this age understood it. For if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”  1 Cor. 2:8.
They lived a life totally conformed to this world, to a material way of thinking. And this is true of today’s secular way of thinking that gives way to an atheist mindset. Secularism wants to dismiss religion off into some obscure corner, out of the way, so that it will not contaminate the minds of people with its myths and superstitions.

Lent is a time to focus our attention on the central reason for our lives, “to be holy as our Father is holy.” A holy person who is transformed by God’s grace, in turn transforms the world around them into a place shaped by truth and beauty and goodness; a place where all evil is banished; a place transfigured in the image of God.

Catherine of Siena was permitted by God to see the beauty of a soul in the state of grace. It was so beautiful that she could not look on it; the brightness of that soul dazzled her. Blessed Raymond, her confessor, asked her to describe to him, as far as she was able, the beauty of the soul she had seen. St. Catherine thought of the sweet light of that morning, and of the beautiful colours of the rainbow, but that soul was far more beautiful. She remembered the dazzling beams of the noonday sun, but the light which beamed from that soul was far brighter. She thought of the pure whiteness of the lily and of the fresh snow, but that is only an earthly whiteness. The soul she had seen was bright with the whiteness of Heaven, such as there is not to be found on earth. ” My father,” she answered. “I cannot find anything in this world that can give you the smallest idea of what I have seen. Oh, if you could but see the beauty of a soul in the state of grace, you would sacrifice your life a thousand times for its salvation. I asked the angel who was with me what had made that soul so beautiful, and he answered me, “It is the image and likeness of God in that soul, and the Divine Grace which made it so beautiful.”.
Yes, this is our dignity and final destiny if we are faithful to God.


Monday, 19 February 2018

Lenten Meditation: Servants of the Lord

The gospel for Monday, the first week of Lent, gives us the standard by which we must face on Judgement Day;
“Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom … I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink … naked and you clothed me…” or "... depart from me for you failed to do ..."

Now before we think we deserve to be rewarded because of our generosity by sharing from the possessions we believe we rightfully own,  let us revisit this idea of "our ownership". 

In Psalm 24:1, we read; “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Is it not that we are only stewards, given responsibility over all that exists, not owners of it?

The following is a meditation on this given by the the Church Father, Saint Gregory of Nazianzen. 
Let us show each other God’s generosity

Recognize to whom you owe the fact that you exist, that you breathe, that you understand, that you are wise, and, above all, that you know God and hope for the kingdom of heaven and the vision of glory, now darkly as in a mirror but then with greater fullness and purity. You have been made a son of God, co-heir with Christ. Where did you get all this, and from whom?

Let me turn to what is of less importance: the visible world around us. What benefactor has enabled you to look out upon the beauty of the sky, the sun in its course, the circle of the moon, the countless number of stars, with the harmony and order that are theirs, like the music of a harp? Who has blessed you with rain, with the art of husbandry, with different kinds of food, with the arts, with houses, with laws, with states, with a life of humanity and culture, with friendship and the easy familiarity of kinship?

Who has given you dominion over animals, those that are tame and those that provide you with food? Who has made you lord and master of everything on earth? In short, who has endowed you with all that makes man superior to all other living creatures?

Is it not God who asks you now in your turn to show yourself generous above all other creatures and for the sake of all other creatures? Because we have received from him so many wonderful gifts, will we not be ashamed to refuse him this one thing only, our generosity? Though he is God and Lord he is not afraid to be known as our Father. Shall we for our part repudiate those who are our kith and kin?

Brethren and friends, let us never allow ourselves to misuse what has been given us by God’s gift. If we do, we shall hear Saint Peter say: Be ashamed of yourselves for holding on to what belongs to someone else. Resolve to imitate God’s justice, and no one will be poor. Let us not labor to heap up and hoard riches while others remain in need. If we do, the prophet Amos will speak out against us with sharp and threatening words: Come now, you that say: When will the new moon be over, so that we may start selling? When will the sabbath be over, so that we may start opening our treasures?

Let us put into practice the supreme and primary law of God. He sends down rain on just and sinful alike, and causes the sun to rise on all without distinction. To all earth’s creatures he has given the broad earth, the springs, the rivers and the forests. He has given the air to the birds, and the waters to those who live in the water. He has given abundantly to all the basic needs of life, not as a private possession, not restricted by law, not divided by boundaries, but as common to all, amply and in rich measure. His gifts are not deficient in any way, because he wanted to give equality of blessing to equality of worth, and to show the abundance of his generosity.


“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ ” 
Lk. 17:7ff

Sunday, 18 February 2018

First Sunday of Lent - 2018

                                        Revisit First Sundays of Lent

First Sunday Lent 2017

 * * * Go to Link * * * 
First Sunday Lent 2016

 * * * Go to Link * * *
First Sunday Lent 2015

 * * * Go to Link * * *


Thursday, 15 February 2018

Lent 2018 - Resources

Voices Bookshelf

 Index Page
Suggested Reading for Lent

     i.   Special Index Page contains a listing of previous blog entries for Lent. Browse Here . . . 
    ii.    Guide To Praying on a Passage of Scripture. Browse Here . . . 
  iii.   Lenten Resources from the Ignatius Web Site. Browse Here . . .  
  iv.   Bible Concordance, handy look-up of books and texts in the bible. Browse Here . . . 
   v.    Word on Fire, connect with Bishop Barron's web site. Browse Here . . .
  vi.  The Salt & Light web site. Browse Here . . .
vii.   The WORD Among Us web site. Browse Here . . .


Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Lent 2018

Lent, An Invitation to Join Him

 I like to think of Lent as beginning with an invitation from the Lord to join him on "His" journey into the wilderness. Thinking of it in this way indicates that the agenda for Lent will be the Lord's and not ours. If we accept, then we should begin by asking the Lord what we will need to bring with us.

The wilderness is to be a place of prayer. Here is a list that very well my be the same list the Lord gives to you.
  • The first thing you must bring is a generous portion of your time. You cannot be in two places at the same time. Notice that the wilderness is an empty place, without the distractions of the secular world surrounding you. Try to find such a place in your day where you can be alone - only you and the Lord. Arranging a time and place is most important.
  • Remember, the Lord has invited you to come and be with him. Be assured, he will be there. You might offer a prayerful word of thanks for such an unimaginable privilege.
  • Next you will need a way to listen to the Lord's voice. Our world is a stadium full of people, all speaking at the same time - can any sense be made of it. The scriptures, especially the gospels reduces the voices down to one, the Lord's. It takes some practice on your part, what with the ringing in your ears from that stadium we live in. "Speak Lord, I am listening".
  • You too can speak. The Lord wants you to understand, but we are a little slow and our thinking has been shaped by that world we have just left, or misshapen by it. Your seeking understanding becomes your prayer. "How can this be Lord?" "Yes Lord, with you all things are possible".
  • Takes notes as they say. When you go back to that stadium of confusing voices, you will need a good way to remember what the Lord has taught you.
  • It will need perseverance, it is a desert after all. Do not give up.


Sunday, 11 February 2018

Sixth Sunday

Today, the World Day of the Sick, highlights the healing ministry of the Church. It reminds us that service to the sick and suffering cannot be neglected. It recognizes the great efforts of doctors, nurses, healthcare institutions and pastoral care givers to restore health to those afflicted with illness and disease.

Appropriately, today’s gospel gives us account of Jesus healing the man of his leprosy. Leprosy, or Hansen's disease as it is also known, still exists today. It’s a bacterial decease affecting the nerves, respiratory tract, skin, and eyes. This may result in a lack of ability to feel pain, thus loss of parts of extremities due to repeated injuries or infection. Today it is curable by medication.

In the ancient world leprosy was grouped in with other visible skin conditions and was most feared and dreaded. People with these conditions were forced to live apart from the general population, they must keep their distance while warning that they were leprous. Chapter 14: in the book of Leviticus gives details on how leprous people were controlled and the complicated rituals they had to follow to be allowed to re-enter the population, should their skin condition clear up.

That is why Jesus instructs the man he has just healed, to go to the priests. It is interesting to note that Jesus also instructs him not to tell anyone how he came to be healed. Why? Physical healing was not the reason why the Father sent his Son into the world. The deadly condition Jesus came to heal was much deeper – it was the condition of death itself, and not physical death but eternal death, the death of sin. Euphoria over physical healing would cause people to see only that, and so fail to hear the deeper message of the gospel, which is exactly what started to happen.

We read: - “… the man went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly but stayed out in the country; (and even then) people came to Jesus from every quarter.” It is interesting in or world today to listen to those who deny God, use the argument of healing to make their case. They say that it is medical science that cures leprosy not religion. Then they go on to argue that if there is a God why does he let leprosy exist at all – the classic “problem of evil”. They fail to understand that Jesus has come from the Father to enable all of us to become healers, by turning our hearts from hatred to compassion and love.

The man with leprosy came to Jesus begging him, and kneeling said to Jesus, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” What the atheist fails to recognise is that it was in the countries imbued with the gospel of compassion and love, in Christian societies, that the sciences of healing medicine were discovered, fostered, and developed. Where the gospel of love shaped man’s thinking, the work of caregiving and healing flourished.

Just imagine what good would be ours today if the energy and efforts spent on god-less war and hate hand been spent on finding healing, not on making war. Today’s World Day of the Sick reminds us of this dimension of our Christian faith, to be healers as Jesus was also a healer.


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