- RESOURCE: At Home with the Word 2018, LTP, pages 92-95.
- RESOURCE: Scripture Backgrounds For The Sunday Lectionary, LTP, pages 35-36.
- RESOURCE: Living Liturgy™ Spirituality, Celebration, and Catechesis for Sundays and Solemnities 2018, Liturgical Press, Online Pages 64-67.
- RESOURCE: The Word On The Street, Sunday Lectionary Reflections, litpress.org, pages 25-26.
- RESOURCE: Sacred Reading,The 2018 Guide to Daily Prayer, Apostleship of Prayer, page 88.
- RESOURCE: Lectio Divina, Magnificat, February 18, 2018, pages 276-278.
- RESOURCE: Magnificat Reflections, February 2018, pages 283, 287-288.
- RESOURCE: Give Us This Day® Reflections Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic, February, 2018, pages 190-191; 194-195.
- RESOURCE: Homily for First Sunday of Lent, February 18, 2018
- RESOURCE: Holy Father’s Intention For The Month Of February 2018 —The Apostleship of Prayer
- RESOURCE: KNOM Radio Mission’s Monthly Bulletin’s, One-Liners in Faith For February 2018
- RESOURCE: Suggested Prayer of the Faithful: Faith Catholic Online; Daily Prayer 2018; OCP; Magnificat; Liturgical Press.
- RESOURCE: General Intercessions On Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, February 4, 2018 – Cycle B – Saint Peter Parish, Kirkwood
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AT HOME WITH THE WORD® 2018
February 18, 2018 – FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT
READING I Genesis 9:8-15
God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “See, I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you: all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals that were with you and came out of the ark. I will establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood; there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth.” God added: “This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come, of the covenant between me and you and every living creature with you: I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds, I will recall the covenant I have made between me and you and all living beings, so that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all mortal beings.”
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9 (see 10)
R. Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me; teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior. R.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD, and your love are from of old. In your kindness remember me, because of your goodness, O LORD. R.
Good and upright is the LORD, thus he shows sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice, and he teaches the humble his way. R.
READING II 1 Peter 3:18-22
Beloved: Christ suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the Spirit. In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. This prefigured baptism, which saves you now. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.
GOSPEL Mark 1:12-15
The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.
After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Practice of Faith
Today parishes across the country will send their catechumens
(those preparing for Baptism) to their local bishop for the Rite of Election. Through the formation process, which includes much prayer, the catechumens have been growing their faith for many months. They now enter the Period of Purification and Enlightenment, a time of intense spiritual preparation and deepening relationship with Christ, as they prepare to receive the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil.
• James Dunning writes, “Lent without candidates for baptism is like a Mass without bread and wine. These persons are the sacraments of the dying and rising taking place in all of us” (New Wine: New Wineskins: Exploring the RCIA, Sadlier, 1981). Learn the names of the catechumens in your parish and pray for them throughout Lent.
• Reflect on what is dying and rising in you this Lenten season. How might it be reflected in those persons preparing for the sacraments of initiation?
• To inspire your own Lenten Journey, read Bishop Ricken’s “Journey to the Foot of the Cross: 10 Things to Remember for Lent”: http://www.usccb.org /prayer-and-worship/liturgical -year/lent/journey -to-the-foot-of -the-cross-10-things-to-remember-for-lent.cfm.
Download more questions and activities for families, Christian initiation groups, and other adult groups at http://www.ltp.org/t¬productsupplements.aspx.
For the next several weeks the Church celebrates Lent. Lasting a symbolic forty days (it doesn’t count out to precisely forty days), Lent reminds us of times of testing described in the Bible, such as the forty years the Jews wandered in the wilderness after the Exodus and many other stories we will hear about during Lent. It is a time of preparation for the great celebration of Easter.
Today’s First Reading recalls an important “forty” story—in which God grieved all the evil that had come into the world and decided to renew creation through a flood. For forty days it rained! When Noah and his family were finally able to return to dry land, God established a new, everlasting covenant with humanity that was signified by a rainbow in the clouds.
The Second Reading draws upon the Noah story to explain how Christ suffered for our sins but was brought to life in the Spirit. Biblical scholars do not know the identity of the “spirits in prison,” but the phrase may refer to the spirits of the unrighteous who died in the flood. More importantly, the author suggests that the flood story was a prefiguring of Christian Baptism, in which we join ourselves to Christ’s Death so that we can come to new life with him.
The Gospel continues the theme of testing and preparation by recalling the story of Jesus’ sojourn in the wilderness, where he was tested by Satan for forty days, and then appeared in public proclaiming the nearness of the reign of God and preaching the need for repentance.
• Carefully reread the Second Reading. What do you think the author meant when he described the flood story as a prefiguring of Christian Baptism? How is Christian Baptism different from the flood story that prefigures it?
• Consider the Gospel reading and Jesus’ proclamation of the coming reign of God. What kind of reaction does its message evoke in you? Why?
• Prayerfully reflect on today’s Responsorial Psalm. What words or images speak most vividly to you? Use those words or images to write your own personal prayer to God. AT HOME with the WORD® LTP, pages 92-95.
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SCRIPTURE BACKGROUNDS FOR THE SUNDAY LECTIONARY
SCRIPTURE BACKGROUNDS FOR THE SUNDAY LECTIONARY
FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT – February 18, 2018
Learning God’s Ways
GENESIS 9:8-15 God’s statement to Noah and his family in this reading is profound: “I will establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood” (v. 11). Never again will God destroy humanity. It is a wonderful promise on God’s part, because, while Noah and his family may deserve to be rewarded for their faithfulness, human beings will certainly continue to sin. Yet, in spite of the infidelity of subsequent generations of humans, God has promised never to send destruction again. This is God’s covenant: to remain in a loving, compassionate, and merciful relationship with all human beings, no matter what.
After the flood, God once again invited human beings to recognize the beauty of creation. The flood waters released humanity from sin and revealed the possibility of a new Eden, a new garden of life. This new earth, birthed from the flood waters, is where humans could be faithful partners in their loving relationship with God. God’s creatures are welcomed, once again, to enter the waters of rebirth. In those waters, they can remember their part in keeping the covenant and relearn the ways of God. During Lent, we join with those who move toward the waters of Baptism at the Easter Vigil. With them, we are invited to seek a rebirth from sin and recognize our possibility of new life.
The bow suspended in the sky in Genesis is a sign of peace and God’s faithfulness. It is a new dawn for humans who are, once again, invited to learn and live by God’s ways. Like Noah, we see the sign of a new dawn as we begin this Lenten season.
PSALM 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9 (SEE 10)
We pray this same psalm and verses on the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, but with a different antiphon. In today’s antiphon, we pray for the courage and trust to learn the ways of the Lord: “Your ways, 0 Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant” (25:10). Learning the ways of God means being willing to be attentive to what God offers to teach us. In the psalm, we plead for God to make known, teach, guide, and remember. We ask God to be active in our lives. Despite our sinfulness, which we acknowledge as Lent begins, God does remember. God does make it known. God does teach and guide. The way to the Lord is set before us.
1 PETER 3:18-22 The passage from Peter’s epistle sounds like a creedal statement: Christ suffered, died, and rose, brought to life in the Spirit. His imagery reminded listeners of God’s patience while Noah obeyed in building the ark. Peter linked the flood to the saving water of Baptism. His message is clear: Christ suffered that he might lead us to God.
Some Scripture commentators suggest that because this early community was living the true ways of the Gospel message, they were being derided and maligned. Peter encourages them to continue to live in ways that are faithful to Christ, no matter the cost. The author points to Jesus, who also suffered at the hands of those who abused him for his witness and message of God’s reign. Yet, death was not the end. Jesus’ Resurrection and new life in the spirit enabled his message and ministry to continue. All other powers are subject to the Risen Lord.
MARK 1:12-15 Mark gives the briefest account of Jesus’ temptation in the desert of the three synoptic Gospels. Its brevity drives home the most important points. The Spirit drives Jesus into the desert. There he encounters Satan, wild beasts, and angels. It is an otherworldly experience, but he is not alone. The Spirit is with him. When he emerges after forty days, the message he proclaims is clear: God’s reign is at hand. Repent and believe the Gospel. Jesus was willing to submit to learning the ways of God in the desert for forty days, and came out preaching the Good News of God’s covenant love.
As we begin our Lenten journey, we are invited to spend these forty days learning the ways of God. We are not alone. The Spirit is with us. During this time, we will need to confront the sinfulness, emptiness, and infidelity of our own lives in response to Jesus’ exhortation to repent and believe in the Gospel. In our encounter with The Lord and with the Gospel message, we can learn the saving ways of God and remember our promise to keep God’s covenant.
CONNECTIONS TO CHURCH TEACHING AND TRADITION
n “God’s love in Christ encounters us, attracts us, and delights us, enabling us to emerge from ourselves and drawing us towards our true vocation, which is love”‘ (SacCar, 35).
n “Since this mission goes on and in the course of history unfolds the mission of Christ Himself, who was sent to preach the Gospel to the poor, the Church, prompted by the Holy Spirit, must walk in the same path on which Christ walked: a path of poverty and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice to the death, from which death He came forth a victor by His resurrection” (AG, 5).
n “In the Church’s Liturgy, in her prayer, in the living community of believers, we experience the love of God, we perceive his presence and we thus learn to recognize that presence in our daily lives. He has loved us first and he continues to do so; we too, then, can respond with love” (DCE, 17).
- Cf. GS, 22.
Scripture Backgrounds for the Sunday Lectionary, LTP, pages 35-36.
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LIVING LITURGY™ SPIRITUALITY, CELEBRATION, AND CATECHESIS FOR SUNDAYS AND SOLEMNITIES 2018
Reflecting on the Gospel – The First Sunday of Lent
Upon making a commitment, how often do we start out with strong intentions, firm will, and fortitude? Perhaps nothing represents that more in our modern culture than a New Year’s resolution. We see and hear ads for gym member-ships and diet plans flooding the internet and the airwaves during those first few weeks of January. So many of us are resolute in those weeks. But once a hurdle is in our path we can quickly stumble. Sometimes we can make a commitment to exercise daily, and that routine is manageable for a few days, or even a few weeks. But we also face other priorities in the midst of our goal to exercise daily. Pretty soon, exercising is a long-gone wish.
Jesus faced something much more profound than a New Year’s resolution or an intention to exercise daily. Upon being baptized and starting his ministry, he was immediately faced with temptation. He was driven into the desert, a place of no con-solation, no respite, and no refreshment. The experience of knowing he is God’s Son gives way to isolation and solitude in a harsh environment.
As a human being, Jesus knew temptation; the gospel is clear about that. But for many Christians it can be difficult to imagine that Jesus was truly tempted, for he was also di-vine. And yet as he was fully human he was truly tempted. Despite these real temptations, he overcame them. Mark does not tell us much about this period, unlike Luke, for example, with the many scenes of Jesus conversing with Satan. Mark is intent to tell us in sparse text, without wasting a word, that Jesus was tempted by Satan. Jesus was fully human and experienced temptation as we do.
As Jesus was tempted we too will be tempted. Perhaps even our profound experience of faith and trust in God is tested. But after this period of testing Jesus returns to Galilee, his home, and proclaims the Gospel. In this he is a model for us, who will not live without temptation. We might have an experience of desolation that God is not with us in our trials. But like Jesus we can undergo this experience and emerge stronger, with the courage to proclaim the Gospel.
Living the Paschal Mystery
Our lives are filled with many competing priorities. Sometimes we call these
“distractions” or temptations. But it is important for us to wisely discern be-tween distractions/temptations and merely competing priorities. Family responsibilities, for example, are hardly temptations, but they can sometimes pull us in directions we do not enjoy or that are not always life-giving. Perhaps this is why they are called “responsibilities.” Life-giving activities are from the Spirit of God. Pursuits that pull us away from who we are called to be are better called “temptations.” This is where the example of Jesus can be so powerful.
Jesus was, and was called to be, the Son of God. Mark tells us about this experience at Jesus’ baptism. Yet immediately after his baptism, Jesus was in the desert for forty days, being tempted, only to return to his home, true to his mission, to preach the Gospel.
Often, we know who we are called to be. Even in the midst of temptation, or desolation, we know who we are and what we ought to do. Following Christ does not mean a life on easy street without trials or perils. Quite the opposite. The Christian life is beset by obstacles, temptations, and pitfalls. As Jesus did, we are called to proclaim the Gospel, whether we do that at home, in our work-place, or with friends.
Focusing the Gospel – Mark 1:12-15
Every year the Lenten season begins in the desert. Mark’s brief account of Jesus’ forty days in the desert takes place immediately after Jesus’ baptism. Driven by the Spirit, Jesus’ going to the desert is an act of obedience to the Father. This is a time for contemplation and discernment regarding the tremendous task before him.
The word “Satan” comes from the Hebrew word for “adversary.” Satan serves as Jesus’ adversary, tempting him along another path. And this was in the truest sense, a “temptation” for Jesus, who was not merely play-acting. But Jesus never succumbed to the adversary’s temptation. Thus, Mark’s portrait of Jesus in the desert is that of God’s son and Messiah overcoming temptation and re-emerging to preach the gospel.
Focusing the First Reading – Gen 9:8-15
Today’s first reading recounts God’s covenant with Noah. The first Christians saw in the Noah tale an image of baptism: a new world, free from sin, cleansed by the flood waters and God makes a covenant with humanity. After their forty days and nights adrift in the ark, Noah and his family begin the task of reestablishing God’s creation.
Focusing the Responsorial Psalm – Ps 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Covenant and journey are the themes of today’s responsorial psalm. Human-kind’s covenant with God, reestablished in the faithfulness of Noah and his clan, is centered in God’s compassion and justice. The psalm also praises God as the source of true wisdom: God is the guide and teacher who marks our life’s journey by way of justice and humility.
Focusing the Second Reading – 1 Pet 3:18-22
In Christ, God has again raised up his beloved sons and daughters from the tombs of their sins. The writer of the First Letter of Peter picks up the baptismal theme of the Noah story: God again restores life through water and recreates our fallen world through Christ.
Model Penitential Act
Presider: Called by the Spirit to the Lenten desert with Christ, let us ask for the mercy of God for our sins. [pause]
- The same Spirit that “drove” Jesus into the desert drives us into our own “deserts” to rediscover God. Lent calls us to our interior deserts, to that place within us where we can turn off the noise and shut out the fears and tensions of our lives to realize God’s grace. It is only in such stillness that we can realize the many manifestations of God’s love in our midst, a love that is difficult to see in all the distractions demanding our attention and hard to hear in all the noise screaming at us. In the stillness of the Lenten desert, we rediscover what it means to be people of faith, what values we want our lives to stand for, what path we want our lives to take on our journey that inevitably leads to God and Easter resurrection.
- Lent calls us to face our mortality, to realize that our lives are all too brief and fragile. As Jesus was led to the desert to confront the mission before him, we are called to the desert of our hearts and spirits to confront what we are making of this time we have been given, what we want our lives to stand for, what we want to leave to those we love. Lent calls us into the deserts of our hearts to turn away from the attitudes and behaviors that mire our lives in selfishness, unhappiness, and disappointment and turn toward the values of God we seek to embrace.
- While the “Spirit” of God calls us to the work of reconciliation, justice, and generosity, “Satan” dissuades us from taking on God’s work by focusing, instead, on our own temptations. Our Lenten desert experience with Jesus is a time to confront the “temptations of Satan”: those things (however common in the scheme of life) that can too easily displace the things of God in our lives. This First Sunday of Lent is a call to “repent”: to change our lives’ focus and direction and recreate those wants and attitudes that doom our resolve to realize the kingdom of God in our lives.
Lenten environment: Many of us have gotten it into our Catholic imagination that Lent is about the desert. One reason for this is today’s gospel reading, which, on the First Sunday of Lent, is always about Jesus’ temptation in the desert. But beyond that reference, nothing else about Lent implies desert or dryness, much less cacti or sand.
The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy says that Lent has a twofold nature: “[By] the recalling of Baptism or the preparation for it, and Penance . . . the church prepares the faithful for the celebration of Easter, while they listen more attentively to God’s word and devote more time to prayer. Accordingly, more use is to be made of the baptismal features which are part of the Lenten liturgy” (109). Join this directive with today’s first reading about Noah and the flood and the second reading connecting that flood with the saving waters of baptism, and we get something that looks a lot more like spring with its thunderstorms and new buds bending under the weight of that water.
That image of new life in need of extra care from sudden storms is what this First Sunday of Lent is about as the church makes a covenant with its most vulnerable—the elect. The promise we give them is that they too will be saved, like Noah, by the flood of God’s grace in the waters of baptism at the upcoming Easter Vigil. We, the church, will be their ark of safety during these last few weeks of temptation, doubt, and sec-ond thoughts.
We who are baptized are to be examples for these elect of ongoing conversion and renewal, of repentance and deeper commitment to living out the vows of our baptism. This is why we must make more use of the baptismal features that are proper to the Lenten liturgy in order to help us remember our own baptismal vows for the sake of those who are preparing to make those vows for the first time. Therefore, get rid of the sand and cacti. Make sure all your fonts are overflowing with water. Preach about baptism and what it means to live as baptized people who face daily temptations with the courage and faith of Jesus.
Rite of Election: In every diocese today, bishops will elect those who are ready to be initiated at the next Easter Vigil. If you have catechumens in your parish who will be declared elect, be sure to highlight them in the community’s prayer throughout Lent. In addition to the Lenten rites for the elect (the three scrutinies, the two presentations, and the preparation rites on Holy Saturday), make sure to include intercessions at every Mass for the elect, enthrone the Book of the Elect by the baptismal font, and continue to celebrate the dismissal of catechumens with the elect as they enter this final period of preparation and intense prayer.
About Liturgical Music
What Lent sounds like: A bit like the misconception that Lent is about the desert, sometimes we have made Lenten music to be about all things soft and quiet. However, the season of Lent began with the trumpet blast in the first reading of Ash Wednes-day. Rather than striving for a meditative or contemplative atmosphere in Lent, let
us hear Lent as a call to intense focus and clearheaded sobriety. Lent challenges us to strip away whatever has become routine or meaningless and to let go of whatever we cling to that keeps us safe in our comfort zones. Perhaps this Lent is calling your choir to push itself to sing a cappella so that the focus is clearly on the power of the human voice. Or perhaps your choir might sing more in unison with the assembly to renew the assembly’s sense of its own voice as primary.
Living Liturgy™ Spirituality, Celebration, And Catechesis For Sundays And Solemnities 2018, Liturgical Press, pages 64-67.
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THE WORD ON THE STREET, SUNDAY LECTIONARY REFLECTIONS
First Sunday of Lent — IN THE WILDERNESS
Readings: Gen 9:8-15; Ps 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9; 1 Pet 3:18-22; Mark 1:12-15
“Repent, and believe in the good news.” (Mark 1:15)
Many theological reasons for Jesus’ baptism have been proposed, explaining it as a sacramental model for the church, an act of solidarity with sinful humanity, or “a manifestation of his self-emptying” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1224), but any answer must stress that “the baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God’s suffering Servant. He allows himself to be numbered among sinners” (CCC 536). After Jesus’ baptism, “the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.” Because Jesus aligns himself with sinful humanity, the act immediately following his baptism is to do battle with evil, as each of us must do daily.
Jesus, who takes on all of our humanity, did not travel from baptism straight to the glory of the transfiguration but went from baptism to the wilderness, because it is a place that haunts our fragile humanity no matter where we are, and it demands redemption. Jesus’ redemption of humanity begins with the incarnation, but we see it advance in his obedience (unlike Adam and Eve) to the will of God and in his steadfastness to resist temptation.
The model Jesus presents to us when “he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan” is one grounded in the reality of human life. Life can be hard, life can be unfair, and life can knock you to the ground. A promise to relax in the car on the way to work can deteriorate into curses cast against the first driver to cut you off. A promise not to drink, and all the hard work that accompanied it in rehab, can fall apart in one visit to the bar, resulting in a sense of frustration and ineptitude. A family gathered in joy can be smashed apart with the sudden death of a child, plunging people into suffering and darkness. Sin crouches nearby, to tempt us in our struggles, our losses, and our suffering.
Unlike Jesus, our ability to resist temptation is flawed, even with the gift of baptism, but baptism also allows us to seek safety in the church when evil threatens to overcome us and drive us into the wilderness alone. For Jesus comes out of the wilderness proclaiming, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” The church was built for the ongoing battle and for repentance when we fall. Repentance is a sign of why the church was built: for salvation.
Noah’s ark was built to save those who took refuge in it, and God promised that “the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.” This ark is an ancient Christian image for the church, for as it says in 1 Peter, by it “a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water”; but in a spiritual sense “baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Repentance functions as this “appeal to God for a good conscience.”
Repentance is available to us because Jesus chose to align himself in the battle against evil so fully that after emerging from the wilderness, “Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark.” There is a question as to whom these “spirits in prison” represent—whether these spirits are the “fallen angels” or the human dead of the time of Noah—but Jesus’ proclamation to them is built into the church for us: “Repent, and believe in the good news”!
It is Christ—through his battle with evil in the wilderness, his suffering and death, and finally his resurrection—who has gained salvation for us. Christ, who is raised up and at the right hand of God, has authority over all powers, human and demonic. We must be encouraged to fearlessly grasp our baptismal mission, for there is no power over which Christ does not rule, and that mission includes repentance when we stumble in our own personal battles.
Let Jesus be with you in the wilderness. What temptations are you struggling with today? For what do you need to repent? How has God accompanied you in your times in the wilderness?
The Word On The Street, Sunday Lectionary Reflections, Liturgical Press, pages 25-26.
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SACRED READING, THE 2018 GUIDE TO DAILY PRAYER
Sunday, February 18, 2018 First Sunday of Lent
Know that God is present and ready to converse.
“Jesus, your message is consistent. As I read your Word, let me hear and obey.”
Read the gospel: Mark 1:12-15.
And the Spirit immediately drove Jesus out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
Notice what you think and feel as you read the gospel.
Led by the Spirit, driven by the Spirit, Jesus goes into the wilderness for forty days. There he is tempted by Satan, but the angels wait on him. Afterward, he proclaims the good news of God: the time has come, the kingdom is near, repent, and believe the good news.
Pray as you are led for yourself and others.
“Jesus, I hearken to your simplicity and the simplicity in this passage from your Word. This is also your message to me: obey the Spirit with simplicity. Lord, I offer myself to you in obedience for the good of those you have given me . . .” (Continue in your own words.)
Listen to Jesus.
It is a grace to hear and respond to the Word of God, my beloved. I wish for all to hear and respond, but many do not. So it has always been. Pray for them. What else is Jesus saying to you?
Ask God to show you how to live today.
“Lord, let me join you in the wilderness; let me be driven by the Spirit to pray often for all those who need to hear your message of salvation.”
Know that God is present and ready to converse.
“Glorious Lord, all your judgments are just. Let your goodness reign in my heart, so that I may do your will.”
Sacred Reading, The 2018 Guide To Daily Prayer, Apostleship of Prayer, page 88.
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LECTIO DIVINA — A PRAYERFUL READING OF SACRED SCRIPTURE
The Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent – Mark 1:12-15
The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert (1:12).
Saint John Chrysostom: “The Spirit drags Jesus into the desert, since he wanted to draw the devil there; and Jesus gave occasion to him not only on account of his hunger but also on account of the place: for then most especially does the devil attack, when he sees people isolated and by themselves.” Mary Healy: “As Adam and Eve were driven out of the garden, Jesus is driven out into the desert.” Father Francis F. Moloney, S.D.B.: ‘The promise of the beginning (Mk 1:1) indicates that the prologue of the Gospel of Mark is linked to the prologue to the human story, as it was told in Gn 1-11. Jesus was driven into the desert to reverse the tragedy of the Adam and Eve story, to reestablish God’s original design.” The Lord once found his people in a wilderness, a wasteland of howling desert (Dt 32:10). That is where we first find Jesus; and that is where he first finds us—in a wasteland of sorrow, confusion, suffering, sin.
And he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him (1:13).
Moloney: “In the Genesis story Satan’s victory over Adam led to hostility and fear in creation. In the Marcan story that situation is reversed: he is with the wild beasts. Jesus’ coming has restored the original order of God’s creation.” Chrysostom: “Since Jesus both acted and experienced all things with a view to our instruction, he is content also to be led up to that place and to wrestle with the devil in order that each of those who are baptized should not be troubled as if the matter happened contrary to expectation but should continue to endure all things nobly. Indeed, for this reason God does not prevent temptations as they come by: first, in order that you may learn that you have become much stronger; then in order that you may remain temperate and not over-excited by the greatness of your gifts, for temptations have the power to humble you; then in order that the evil one, by inquiring through the torture of temptations, might be satisfied that you have completely forsaken him; fourthly, in order that you might become stronger and hard as steel; fifthly, in order that you might through this receive a clear proof of the treasures entrusted to you. For the devil would not come upon you if he did not see you brought to greater honor.” The Imitation of Christ: “When a person of good will is afflicted, tempted, and tormented by evil thoughts, they realize clearly that their greatest need is God, without whom they can do no good. Many people try to escape temptations, only to fall more deeply. The beginning of all temptation lies in a wavering mind and little trust in God, for as a rudderless ship is driven hither and yon by waves, so a careless and irresolute person is tempted in many ways. Often, we do not know what we can stand, but temptation shows us what we are. Above all, we must be especially alert against the beginnings of temptation, for the enemy is more easily conquered if he is refused admittance to the mind and is met beyond the threshold when he knocks. Some, guarded against great temptations, are frequently overcome by small ones in order that, humbled by their weakness in small trials, they may not presume on their own strength in great ones. A person, indeed, is not worthy of the sublime contemplation of God who has not been tried by some tribulation for the sake of God. For temptation is usually the sign preceding the consolation that is to follow”. Father John Justus Landsberg († 1539): “From this episode our first lesson is that human life on earth is a life of warfare, and the first thing Christians must expect is to be tempted by the devil. For this reason, the Lord desires his disciples to find comfort in his own example. Reading in the Gospel that Christ too was tempted by the devil immediately after he was baptized, they will not grow fainthearted and fearful if they experience keener temptations from the devil after their conversion or baptism than before—even if persecution should be their lot.”
After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God.
“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (1:14-15).
Saint Bernard: “Repentance is the feeling of a person irritated with himself.” Moloney: “The basic meaning of ‘repent’ is a radical turning back. An almost physical image is conjured up, disclosing an urgent need to stop in one’s tracks, turn from all that leads away from the Kingdom, and become part of that Kingdom by believing in the Good News.” Monsignor Romano Guardini: “Repentance is an appeal to the deepest mystery of the creative power of God. Repentance does not cover up sin. On the contrary, repentance is truth. It tries to see things as they really are. Repentance is itself a gift. When man comes to God with his repentance, the living God is already in him and has given him repentance. Something has not been merely covered up: I have been born again. I begin again.” Pages 276-278.
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MAGNIFICAT REFLECTIONS, FEBRUARY 2018
First Sunday of Lent — February 18, 2018
Noah endured the forty-day devastation of the flood. In a similar way, the Spirit today drives Jesus into the forty-day trial of the desert. Satan conspires to make Jesus compromise his relationship as Son toward his Father. But Jesus remembers how the flood ends with God’s promise, “I will establish my covenant with you.” The Father now perfects that promise in the flesh of his own Son who will “show sinners the way” so that “he might lead you to God.” The temptations make Jesus only more certain of his Sonship. Through our trials the Father’s care shines. Magnificat, February 2018, page 283.
United with Jesus in His Temptations
The Word of God promises the crown to the man who endures temptation and is proved in it. It is good for us to consider and desire this reward so that, having greater nourishment, we may not be lukewarm in working nor weak in suffering. It was said of Moses that he was looking toward the reward (Heb 11:26). The same was said of David (Ps 119:112). But true and perfect love for the crucified Lord so esteems conformity with him that it regards suffering for God as a very great gift and reward. As Saint Augustine says, “Blessed is the injury of which God is the cause.” Nobody fails to protect one who is suffering because of having entered into his service. Much more should this be expected of the divine goodness, which will take your cause as his own, in accord with David’s prayer: Arise, Lord, and judge your cause; remember the insults that the fool speaks against you all day long (Ps 74:22). To God pertains the business that his servant undertakes. Therefore, God watches over it with great fidelity. With hope in him rather than in ourselves, we must dare to undertake the endeavor of the service of God….
We sustain ourselves with the hard stones of the temptations that the devil brought upon us to test, as he did with our Lord, whether we are children of God (cf. Mt 4:3). Thus we draw forth honey from poison and health from our wounds, and we emerge from temptations having been tried and with millions of other blessings.
For these blessings, we do not have the devil to thank, for his will is not to make us crowns but chains. Rather, we must thank God, the supreme and omnipotent Good, who will never permit any evil except to bring good from it by a higher means. Nor would he permit our enemy and those who belong to him to afflict us, unless it is for the great confusion of the enemy and for the good of the one afflicted….
When the devil thinks that he is doing most harm to the virtuous, he benefits them most. Because of this, he ends up so confounded and ashamed that, in his pride and envy, he would prefer that he had not begun this game that turned out so well for those he wanted to harm.
SAINT JOHN OF AVILA — Saint John of Avila († 1569) was a Spanish priest, mystic preacher, and scholar. He is a Doctor of the Church. Magnificat, February 2018, pages 287-288.
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GIVE US THIS DAY REFLECTIONS
Reflection – Covenant in the Nitty-Gritty
What, we might ask, does saying grace at meals have to do with God’s covenant with Noah? The answer is in Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’: “That moment of [meal] blessing, however brief, reminds us of our dependence on God for life; it strengthens our feeling of gratitude for the gifts of creation” (227).
“The sun rises and the sun sets,” says Qoheleth (Eccl 1:5), implying that everything just drones on without meaning. Ho-hum. But God does not see it that way. God’s love for us and commitment to us come through in the order of our universe. You can count on the sun and moon and stars in their places, God says, and the seasons following one after
another. You can build your home here; in fact, the earth is meant to be, as Pope Francis says, “our common home.”
This large vision may not impress us until it is translated into daily details. A priest began a memorable homily by standing at the lectern holding up his hands and wiggling his fingers. After a few moments he asked, “Did you ever think about what it would be like if you didn’t have knuckles? Did you ever wonder why many animals put their faces in their food?”
There is no better time than Lent to rediscover God’s covenant with us in the nitty-gritty of creation, in the day-to-day gifts. For this we say, Laudato God be praised!
FATHER JEROME KODELL — Fr.Jerome Kodell, OSB, is former abbot of Subiaco Abbey in Arkansas.
February 18-24 First Week of Lent
Within the Word — Becoming a Ninevite
A few years ago, I accompanied one of my doctoral candidates, Fr. Samer Yohanna, a Chaldean priest, to obtain his Vatican Library card. The application form asked for his place of birth, so he wrote Nineveh (how Chaldean Christians refer to Mosul, Iraq). The secretary, recalling the biblical story of Jonah, looked at his application, smiled, and asked, “Did you convert?” Samer responded cheerfully, “Oh yes, and the prophet’s tomb is in my city?’ (Jonah’s traditional burial site was destroyed by ISIS in 2014.)
On Wednesday we become Ninevites, called to conversion by the prophet Jonah. The specific content of Jonah’s exhortation was probably borrowed from Monday’s reading from Leviticus. God, speaking through Moses, bluntly names our sins: defrauding, holding grudges, gossiping, cursing the poor (symbolized by the deaf and blind), and denying workers a just wage. Who among us has not been served by a low-paid restaurant worker who lacks access to proper health care? The Leviticus reading opens our eyes to discover sins that could go unnoticed—the injustices that we quietly accept in ourselves and in our world.
But how could an Israelite prophet, a foreigner from a rather insignificant land, preach in Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire, a city so large that it took Jonah three days to walk through it? In fact, when God ordered Jonah to go to Nineveh (700 miles northeast of Jerusalem) the first time, Jonah took off westward toward Tarshish (chap. 1). He knew that as an outsider, his preaching would be unwelcome.
In April 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. traveled from Atlanta to Birmingham (a mere 148 miles) to preach nonviolent resistance against segregation, but the local religious leaders viewed him as an outside agitator. King appealed to the prophet Jonah: “Just as the prophets of the eighth century BC left their villages and carried their ‘thus saith the Lord’ far beyond the boundaries of their home towns:’ so he had left Atlanta and come to Birmingham because “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” (Letter from Birmingham Jail).
King went willingly to Birmingham—but Jonah had to be swallowed up by a fish and then spewed out on the beach before he accepted that in God’s mind injustice even in the distant capital of Nineveh threatened justice everywhere.
God allows the Ninevites forty days—a Lenten journey—to recognize the injustices in their city and to repent. Conversion takes time; the battle against our sinfulness is not won in a day. In fact, it is never won. The Ninevites would not cease to be sinners after forty days of repentance, but the recognition of their sins would be the first step to building a more just society in their capital city.
During the tense confrontation in Wednesday’s Gospel, Jesus recalls Jonah’s story. In Luke’s version Jesus makes no reference to the “three days” that Jonah spent in the belly of the fish (cf. Matt 12:39-40). For Luke’s Jesus, the “sign of Jonah” is the Israelite prophet himself, traveling to a foreign land to urge the Ninevites to confess the injustices in their own lives and in their world. Jesus, “something greater than Jonah:’ bids us to hear the challenge of his preaching and, during these first days of Lent, to become Ninevites.
FATHER CRAIG MORRISON — Fr. Craig E. Morrison, OCarm, directed Fr. Samer Yohanna’s dissertation at the Pontifical Biblical Institute. Fr. Yohanna, OAOC, a Ninevite and native Aramaic speaker, was the rector of the Pontifical Babel College in Erbil, Iraq. He is now superior general of his community.
Give Us This Day®, Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic, pages 194-195.
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Homily for the First Sunday of Lent – February 18, 2018
Genesis 9: 8-15; 1 Peter 3: 18-22; Mark 1: 12-15 1 Lent B ‘18
Francis, the bishop of Rome, has suggested we change the current wording of the Lord’s prayer from “lead us not into temptation –” to — “do not let us fall into temptation.” His point is that God does not lead humans into temptation!! Neither does some malevolent spiritual figure named “Satan.”
Mark is the shortest of the four gospels. He agrees with Matthew and Luke that Jesus “was led by the Spirit into the desert where he spent 40-days and was tempted by Satan.” That is the simplest, bare bones info given to us by Mark. What does it mean?
Perhaps you had your DNA checked. If so, your genetic package revealed something about your primal ancestors, but nothing about your primal instincts of self-preservation and reproduction. All forms of violence: domination, oppression and exploitation are rooted in one of these instincts.
Further your DNA revealed nothing about your most human quality– your ability to love without condition. On the evolutionary ladder that is what sets us apart from earlier primal life forms. To be fully human means to sublimate and direct those instincts to nonviolent, unconditional love.
We hear “tempted by Satan” and immediately think of a malevolent figure leading Jesus, or us, to be less than fully human. To claim “the devil made me do it” is simply wrong. Like all of us, Jesus was pulled by his basic, primal instincts of self-preservation and reproduction. He had to make a choice, as we all must do. Be controlled by those basic instincts and be less then fully human. Or sublimate them and become fully human. He made his choice! Mark tells us it was not easy for Jesus, as it is not easy for us, to make that choice. “Forty-days” is a long time.
After his forty-day sojourn in the desert, Jesus returned to “Galilee proclaiming the good news.” He said, “This is the time of fulfillment.” “Repent and believe the gospel.”
This is serious business. Listen to him. The word “repent” (metanoia) means a change of mind and heart. That means be open to and embrace your own possibilities. All of us have within us the possibility of sublimating our primal instincts and becoming fully human.
“This is the time of fulfillment” for us! — Lent! The Greek word Jesus used for “the time” is “kairos.” “Kairos” means the opportune time, the right time, a time not to be missed. Lent is a great and gentle voice calling and inviting us to be open to and embrace our own possibilities.
So remember this. To be fully human means sublimating the power of those basic, primal instincts into nonviolent, unconditional love. Those who submit to those primal instincts choose to remain more like those un-evolved life forms, and less than human.
Our destiny is to become fully human and live in union with that Gracious Mystery we name God. I appreciate the suggestion offered by Francis of Rome. The love of that Gracious Mystery for us is far more than we are able to comprehend. Certainly that Gracious Mystery does not “lead us into temptation.” The same Spirit of God that led Jesus into the wilderness empowers us and will continue to do so until we make the same choice he made.
We are living in a national situation all of us helped to create. Our government and economic system are badly out of balance. We have elected incompetent people to leadership roles. Many of us, perhaps including you, are concerned our situation is only getting worse. Don’t be discouraged. The social/political/cultural moment in which we live will be an unexpected blessing if we refuse to allow our primal instincts to control us. We have the ability to sublimate the enormous power of those instinctual drives into unconditional, nonviolent love. Be positive and be confident! That Gracious Mystery we name God will never abandon us as we struggle to become more fully alive and more fully human.
FATHER JAMES J. HOGAN, Missoula, Montana
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HOW THE CHURCH HAS CHANGED THE WORLD
A Universe in a Grain — Anthony Esolen
A MAN SITS HUNCHED OVER A LONG OAK TABLE, his eyes peering at a flat square of stretched and treated sheepskin before him. Scattered over the table are small pots of colors, the whites of eggs, and some glue rendered from the bones of fish. There are also quills of all sizes, and reeds, some sharpened to an almost invisible point. And herbs, berries, petals, stones crushed to powder, tiny flakes of gold and silver, and the oily soot from lamps—lampblack.
“Master,” says a boy coming into the room, “the tide is out and the merchant is on his way. He says to tell you that the mountains have given up their jewels. What does he mean?”
Only at low tide can a man cross on foot from the coast to the holy island.
“Ah, that is good news, good news indeed!” cries the artist, looking up from his work and smiling. He is speckled with colors upon his fingers and wrists and even his face, and though most of it he can wash away at nightfall, he will take a little of it happily to the grave with him. “It means that the lapis has come from India. Now will my Virgin wear her finest blue.”
“What is India?” says the boy, now leaning over the sheepskin. What he sees there is astonishing. Birds, branches, leaves, strange animals, interlacing shapes, in russet, saffron, rose, cornflower, wheaten, so involved, so woven in and among one another in such a bewildering tracery of graceful curves, it seemed that if you straightened them out from a single page you could string them out two miles from the island to the shore and back again.
“India is a land on the other side of the world,” says the man. “The mountains bear a rock called lapis lazuli, as blue as the twilight before the dawn, with sometimes a kiss of clear green in it. I have been waiting a whole year for that color.”
“Will it be heavy, this rock?” asks the boy. “Heavy?” says Bishop Eadfrith. “No, not heavy. You could hold it in your hand.”
DO NOT DESPISE THE SMALL
“Master,” asks the boy, “it seems a far distance to travel for something I could hold. Wouldn’t some crushed violets have done as well?”
Eadfrith was pricking out a flourish of red dots that even under a microscope, which of course he did not have, would appear like—a flourish of red dots. “No, not at all, my boy. The violets are dull. The lapis is filled with light.”
“Does God care for things so small?” “Does he care for you and me? We are to him less than one of these red dots is to us.” “Then how,” said the boy, now leaning upon the table and laying his head close to the master’s, studying each tiny stroke of the pen, “can God dwell within us?” “He dwelt in the womb of the Virgin and was no bigger than the tip of this quill.”
“I cannot understand that, Master.”
Eadfrith continued to work, with a patience that seemed outside of time itself. The boy too absorbed the patience, so that whether the answer came in a moment or an hour, he could not tell.
“You are too small to understand it, and so am I.”
“Master,” said the boy, “are the words of God also small, the words that you write on the page?”
“Every jot and tittle,” said the master.
CHRIST OUR LIGHT
The boy cocked his head and looked back from the page. “These are letters,” he said. “I see it! All these birds and blades of grass and twigs and funny animals make up letters. But I don’t understand. What is an X and a P?”
The bishop laughed. “Oh, those are Greek letters. The Greeks, they lived far away also, sometimes on islands just like our Lindisfarne. The letter is called a chi,” he said, pronouncing it like key, “and the other is a rho. They are the first two letters of the name of honor borne by our Lord: Christos. That means He Who Has Been Anointed.” “Because he was a king?” “King and priest and Son of God.” “Have you also been anointed, Master?”
“Yes, I have been anointed bishop.” He then turned to a reed with a flat tip, and dipped it into the fish glue, with the lightest touch, then applied it to a flake of gold not a thousandth the part of a snowflake. He smiled but did not take his eyes from the work. “And you have been anointed.”
“I am a bishop?” “You are a Christian. You are a little Christ. All Christians are.” “But how can Christ who is the Son of God be in me?” “How indeed,” said the bishop.
THEY BRING GOOD TIDINGS
The boy gazed upon the manuscript as the bishop worked. They stayed so for a long time, like a father and son in a workshop.
“It is beautiful, Master,” said the boy. “I am happy that it pleases you.” “Why do we make the first page so beautiful?” “I do not understand your question, my son,” said Eadfrith.
“I mean that the words are the words, whether they are decorated or not.”
“Ah yes, the words are the words.” Eadfrith smiled and thought about an argument he had had with a sort of vagabond monk from the East, who wanted to rub out every image of Christ or Mary he could find. The man’s order had driven him out, and now he wandered around the world like Satan, looking for jobs to spoil.
“Imagine you are bringing good news to a village, that the Danes have been wrecked on the sea, and the people’s houses and farms will not be burned down, and their womenfolk and children will be safe. Would you bring that news with a frown?” “No!” said the boy, laughing.
“Would you dress in black,” said Eadfrith, turning from his work with a mock-grimace, “and mumble your news like this,” and he did a wonderful impersonation of a tragedian, groaning.
“I would dress in red and gold, and I’d come in dancing!” said the boy.
“So we dress the Good News in red and gold, and come in dancing,” said the bishop.
THE VERY STONES DO SPEAK
Suddenly there was a bustle at the door, and in came a big bearded man with a sack over his shoulder. “Greetings, my lord!” he said. “All they from Saba and who knows where shall come bearing gifts.” He put the sack on the floor and loosened the strings, while the boy leaped from his bench and peered inside.
“Oswald my friend, God has brought you back to us safe and sound!” The bishop embraced him, ink and all.
“I have the deep blue lapis, and a kind that I have never seen,” said Oswald, and brought out of the sack what looked like a mass of light green shafts of ice frozen together, their edges and corners glinting. “Will you be able to make use of this, my lord of the quill and the reed?”
“Praise be to God,” said Eadfrith. “Two years have I worked on my Gospels, and now I see the completion drawing near.’ Then he turned to the boy. “Son, these precious stones come from a pagan land, and we will crush the stones and use their light to bring light to the pagans themselves.”
“Even the Danes?”
“The Danes most of all. What Danish king on his throne, surrounded by thanes with their swords adorned in worm forms and monster-forms, will not gaze in wonder at this book for the King of kings? Even if he doesn’t understand the words, the very stones will speak to him—the glory of the world that God has made, and the beauty of the Word that shines in it.”
WHY HIDE THE LIGHT UNDER A BASKET?
Bishop Eadfrith (†721) is considered to be the artist who gave to the world perhaps the most remarkable work of book-art ever executed, the Lindisfarne Gospels. The book itself, now in the British Museum, survived an attack by the Danes and being lost in the sea for several days; it is something of a miracle that we still have it. It is perhaps a greater miracle that it was made in the first place. We could learn much from the man whose love brought it to the light.
Christians should take the lead in all of the arts, because we have the consummate artist to imitate and a subject for our art that cannot be surpassed: the God made Man, to raise small and sinful man to the house of God. And why should we be hesitant to call upon the arts in the work of bringing the Good News to an old and weary world? Glorious things of thee are spoken, 0 Sion, city of our God.
(Anthony Esolen is professor and writer-in-residence at Thomas More College in N.H., translator and editor of Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House), and author of The Beauty of the Word: A Running Commentary on the Roman Missal (MAGNIFICAT).
Magnificat, January 2018, pages 211-216.
Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children
When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities—to offer just a few examples—it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected. Once the human being declares independence from reality and behaves with absolute dominion, the very foundations of our life begin to crumble, for “instead of carrying out his role as a cooperator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature” (Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, May 1, 1991)….
When the human person is considered as simply one being among others, the product of chance or physical determinism, then “our overall sense of responsibility wanes” (Pope Benedict XVI, Message for the 2010 World Day of Peace)….
Human beings cannot be expected to feel responsibility for the world unless, at the same time, their unique capacities of knowledge, will, freedom, and responsibility are recognized and valued….
Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties? “If personal and social sensitivity toward the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away” (Pope Benedict XXVI, encyclical letter Caritas in Veritate, June 29, 2009).
We need to develop a new synthesis capable of overcoming the false arguments of recent centuries.
From Pope Francis 2015 Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si´
Magnificat, January 2018, pages 329-330.
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Blessing for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation
Pope Francis has decided to institute in the Catholic Church an annual “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” to be celebrated on September 1. Pope Francis explains: As Christians, we wish to contribute to resolving the ecological crisis which humanity is presently experiencing. In doing so, we must first rediscover in our own rich spiritual patrimony the deepest motivations for our concern for the care of creation. We need always to keep in mind that, for believers in Jesus Christ, the Word of God who became man for our sake, “the life of the spirit is not dissociated from the body or from nature or from worldly realities, but lived in and with them, in communion with all that surrounds us” (Laudato Si’, 216). The ecological crisis thus summons us to a profound spiritual conversion: Christians are called to “an ecological conversion whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them” (ibid., 217). For “living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience” (ibid.).
A Prayer by Pope Francis
from the Encyclical Laudato Si’
Father, we praise you with all your creatures.
They came forth from your all-powerful hand;
they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love.
Praise be to you! Son of God, Jesus, through you all things were made.
You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother,
you became part of this earth,
and you gazed upon this world with human eyes.
Today you are alive in every creature in your risen glory.
Praise be to you! Holy Spirit, by your light
you guide this world towards the Father’s love
and accompany creation as it groans in travail.
You also dwell in our hearts and you inspire us to do what is good.
Praise be to you!
Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love,
teach us to contemplate you in the beauty of the universe,
for all things speak of you.
Awaken our praise and thankfulness for every being that you have made.
Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined to everything that is.
God of love, show us our place in this world as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth, for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Enlighten those who possess power and money
that they may avoid the sin of indifference,
that they may love the common good,
advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live.
The poor and the earth are crying out.
0 Lord, seize us with your power and light,
help us to protect all life, to prepare for a better future,
for the coming of your kingdom of justice, peace, love and beauty.
Praise be to you! Amen.
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HOLY FATHER’S PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR FEBRUARY 2018:
APOSTLESHIP OF PRAYER REFLECTION FOR FEBRUARY
Say “No” to Corruption
That those who have material, political or spiritual power may resist the lure of corruption.
Fr. Blazek’s Reflection
The abuse of power for personal benefit, corruption, is a problem across all human history. Bribery is often involved. One hears sadly of corrupt narcotics officers working for the mob, or of favors granted at various places of employment for a kickback, or at high levels of government for a public works contract. The Holy Father has taken a firm stand against such immoral and illegal activity, asking us to pray that those tempted to corruption may be delivered from illicit enticements.
This is also a very Ignatian intention: the founder of the Jesuits knew that riches, power and pride were all closely interrelated. The enemy of our human nature leads us to think our gifts and abilities are our own or that having some power might bring us material, social or spiritual wealth. Sadly, in this progression many of us fall prey to the sin of pride, thinking ourselves better than others, or even placing our will above the Lord’s in fashions small and large.
The struggle against corruption is a priority for Pope Francis. On a visit to the Italian city of Cesena last October he characterized corruption as the “termite of politics” and contrary to the common good. In that pastoral visitation listeners applauded his challenge to reject “even the most minimal form of corruption.”
Later that same year the Holy Father called corruption a “smog” that “pollutes” society. Pope Francis invites Catholics to be “crafty,” having a “healthy lack of trust” for those promising easy riches. Such craftiness, he enjoined, calls for careful self-examination in the face of temptation, and a healthy prayer life.
Points for Meditation
Have I been tempted by the lure of riches, be they material, financial or social? Am I in business relationships or friendships with individuals who are abusing power and influence? How might I challenge them, or extricate myself from these webs?
Ephesians 4:20-24 That is not how you learned Christ… as truth is in Jesus, that you should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.
Prayer of the Month
Prayer for deliverance from evil of Pope Saint John Paul II:
Immaculate Heart! Help us to conquer the menace of evil, which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today, and whose immeasurable effects already weigh down upon our modern world and seem to block the paths towards the future! From famine and war, deliver us. From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from every kind of war, deliver us. From sins against the life of man from its very beginning, deliver us. From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the children of God, deliver us.
From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both national and international, deliver us. From readiness to trample on the commandments of God, deliver us. From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of God, deliver us. From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us. From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us, deliver us.
Accept, 0 Mother of Christ, this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual human beings, laden with the sufferings of whole societies. Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit to conquer all sin: individual sin and the “sin of the world,” sin in all its
manifestations. Let there be revealed, once more, in the history of the world the infinite saving power of the Redemption: the power of merciful Love! May it put a stop to evil! May it transform consciences! May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of Hope!
Saint of the Month — St. Blaise Martyr, February 3rd
St. Blaise is numbered among the “14 Holy Helpers” or “Auxiliary Saints.” These holy men and women are said to be particularly helpful intercessors for particular needs, in the case of St. Blaise, healing from illnesses and infirmities of the throat.
It is a marvelous custom in the Church to receive a blessing of the throat on his memorial, imposed by the priest or deacon with two crossed candles pressed across the necks of the faithful.
St. Blaise was martyred in 316. After an interrogation and a severe scourging, he was imprisoned and ultimately beheaded.
Daily Offering Prayer
God, our Father, I offer You my day. I offer You my prayers, thoughts, words, actions, joys, and sufferings in union with the Heart of Jesus, who continues to offer Himself in the Eucharist for the salvation of the world. May the Holy Spirit, who guided Jesus, be my guide and my strength today so that I may witness to Your love. With Mary, the mother of our Lord and of the Church, I pray for all Apostles of Prayer and for this month’s intentions proposed by the Holy Father. Amen.
Traditional Offering Prayer
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.
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Copyright 2018: Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network Item #500
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KNOM RADIO MISSIONS ONE-LINERS for FEBRUARY 2018,
RESOURCE: KNOM Radio Mission’s Monthly Bulletins, provided the following One-Liners in Faith For February 2018
“That those who have material, political or spiritual power may resist any lure of corruption.” — Pope Francis’ monthly prayer intention for February 2018
God expects you to be a construction worker, not part of the wrecking crew.
On this day:
Mend a quarrel. Dismiss a suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter to someone who misses you. Encourage someone. Keep a promise. Examine your demands on others. Express your gratitude. Overcome a fear. And show someone you love them.
And do it again, and again, and again…
Lord, give bread to the hungry — and hunger for You to those who have bread.
Lord, I want to make it a new year. New ideas and dreams, a new approach to You in prayer, a new way of loving my family. A new enthusiasm in my work, a new generosity reaching out to the needy, a new attitude of helping my church, or my school, or my town. Lord, not just a celebration or a party with noisemakers for me. Help me to make this a genuine new year.
The hope of this season is a passion for the seemingly impossible. Our hope is rooted in the promise of God. With God, nothing is impossible.
Life can be understood when you look back. But life must be lived forward.
May God continue to provide for you as the New Year is on the horizon. May He bless you abundantly!
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SUGGESTED INTERCESSIONS FOR SUNDAY
The First Sunday of Lent – FEBRUARY 18, 2018
(Each local community should compose its own Universal Prayer, but may find inspiration in the texts proposed here.)
FOR THE CHURCH
That this Lent the Church will bear witness to those who live in material, moral, and spiritual destitution the Gospel message of God’s love,
That All Baptized Christians faithfully proclaim the reign of God and turn to him in every temptation,
For our church, that, in our prayer and work, we may be signs of God’s love,
For the Church, may we confidently proclaim the Good News of the Gospel and share our faith with others,
That the Church, as she continues to bring the message of Jesus to all, may be blessed with more and more listeners who heed his words,
For clergy around the world, may the Holy Spirit guide them as they lead their people through this most sacred season,
That Church leaders may be blessed with a fruitful harvest in their call to the faithful to be active in sharing their faith with others,
That the Church, through the grace and guidance of the Holy Spirit, may bring the hope of Christ to all who seek the truth,
That we the faithful, baptized into the one Lord, may hear the voice of the Shepherd calling us to discipleship in his name,
For Church leaders and our Holy Father, Pope Francis, may they be strengthened by our prayers as they continue to spread the message of God’s love throughout the world,
For the elderly, single persons, and all who live alone,
For the unloved and for those who appear unlovable,
For members of all religions that address God as “father,”
For a deeper appreciation of the signs given us by Christ in the sacraments,
For the pope and his ministry of fostering unity among all Christians,
For a renewal of the desire to cultivate virtue and holiness in our lives,
For women and men who live the consecrated life in the Church,
For the ability to forgive as Jesus taught and showed us to do,
For the conversion of many hearts during this Lenten season,
For a unity that stems from collaboration among Christians in evangelization and pastoral care, not only in theological discussions,
FOR THE WORLD
For all the nations and peoples of the earth, that they may work together to protect the gifts of God’s creation for the peaceful use of all,
For peace in the world, and for the protection of all those who risk their lives to defend that peace,
That political leaders avoid temptations of power and greed and serve with sincere generosity those they represent,
For those in public office, may they embrace servant leadership and strive to be steadfast in speaking the truth,
That integrity and honesty may be the hallmarks of all who hold elected office or formulate public policy,
For farmers and all who work the land throughout the world, may they receive what they need to produce an abundant harvest,
That elected officials may have the graces of integrity, honesty and compassion in enacting laws and decrees that benefit all,
That community leaders may be filled with wisdom and humility, and embrace servant leadership,
That leaders throughout the world may have virtuous hearts in seeking to understand people of diverse cultures and practices,
For countries torn apart by violence and hatred, may they experience a new dawn of peace and reconciliation,
For world leaders, that they will strive for peace in the most tormented regions of the world,
For world leaders, that they will nurture their prayer lives,
For those captive to a one-dimensional world represented by consumerism, materialism, and rationalism,
For world leaders, that they seek to unite peoples of differing cultures,
For a widespread understanding of the universal call to holiness,
FOR THE OPPRESSED / ANY NEED
That families will recommit themselves to fervent prayer this Lent so as to grow in greater love and holiness,
That those enticed by an individualistic mentality may be set free and given a more noble way of living,
For all who are in prison, may they use this difficult time to grow closer to God,
That those who have been victimized by prejudice or hatred may be affirmed and comforted by our love, acceptance and support,
That those who lack the basic necessities to survive the long winter months may be helped by abundant generosity and love from others,
That those who are grieving the loss of a loved one may be comforted and strengthened by the love of God reflected in each of us,
For those whose hearts have turned away from God, may they, in this season of Lent, find new hope in the promise of Christ,
For a deeper sensitivity to the evil powers that seek to influence our lives and faith,
For regions where deserts have been created through human abuse of ecological balances,
For patience with ourselves as we seek to observe the Lenten season religiously,
For an end to capital punishment,
For children who do not learn their prayers for various reasons,
For those God is calling to hear and embrace the Gospel for the first time,
For those who refuse to admit wrongdoing,
For the incarcerated and those forever marked by what they have done, even after repentance,
For the recovery in our culture of a sense of what sin is,
For the gift of compassion,
FOR THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
For those who are preparing for baptism and the Easter sacraments, that these forty days may be a time of discovering the love and mercy of God in their lives,
For those preparing to enter the Church at Easter who will come forward today for the Rite of Election: that they will be blessed in these days of preparation,
For this faith community, may our lives bear witness to the Lord during this Lenten journey,
That our catechumens and elect may be strengthened on their journey to Easter, and may God build them into his kingdom,
For all men and women who serve as pastors and leaders of faith communities,
For community leaders, that they experience a spirit of joy in their work,
FOR THE ASSEMBLY
That all who are on their journey to the Easter sacraments experience the welcome and support of their communities,
That the members of this assembly, in prayer and fasting, be drawn ever more deeply into the paschal mystery,
For the grace this week to face the temptations of life by relying on the love of the Lord in our lives,
For those gathered here, may we respond boldly to the call to discipleship and mission,
That we as a faith community will be open to the grace of the Holy Spirit during this Lenten period as we prepare to welcome the risen Christ at Easter,
That those in our faith community in need of forgiveness may be inspired to seek the grace of the sacraments in order to restore peace in their hearts,
That this community of faith may be guided by the Holy Spirit so as to use our talents and gifts for the greater glory of God,
For this faith community, may we be graced with the heart and mind of Christ so as to welcome the stranger and the traveler, and spread the fruits of hospitality and generosity,
FOR THE SICK
For the sick, the suffering, the recovering, and the dying, that the limitless compassion of God will restore them to health and hope,
That all who face obstacles, be they physical or emotional, grow in faith-filled stamina and determination,
For the sick, the homebound and the suffering, that God’s healing touch may bring them peace and comfort,
That those who struggle with addiction may be freed from what enslaves them and come to see God as their refuge,
For those who suffer from psychological neuroses and disabilities,
FOR THE DECEASED
For those who have died, may they experience the fullness of God’s love and mercy,
That all of our beloved friends and relatives who the Lord has called home will rest eternally in the Lord’s presence,
For all who will die today, and all the faithful departed, may they enter into their eternal rest,
That our beloved dead may be welcomed into the heavenly kingdom with all the angels and saints,
That those who have died may share in the eternal peace of Christ,
That those who have died may be welcomed into the heavenly kingdom,
For all the faithful departed, may they behold God face-to-face in heaven,
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RESOURCE: INTERCESSIONS FOR NATURAL DISASTERS FOR U. S ET AL
Universal Prayers for Victims of Recent Natural Disasters
3) For those whose homes and businesses have been destroyed by floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, forest fires or other natural disasters, that, as they struggle to rebuild, they will experience the loving assistance of communities of faith, let us pray to the Lord …
4) For all rescue workers and volunteers, that they will be blessed with energy and courage as they help their brothers and sisters who have been injured or left homeless by recent natural disasters, let us pray to the Lord …
5) For all of us, that we will reach out in love to those who are suffering due to the recent earthquakes, floods and tornadoes, let us pray to the Lord …
Universal Prayers for Opioid Crisis:
1) For members of the health professions, first responders and civic leaders, may the Holy Spirit inspire them to work together to help all those who are affected by the scourge of addiction, let us pray to the Lord.
2) For those struggling to break free from addiction to opioids, may they find hope and healing in Jesus and his Church on their path to recovery, let us pray to the Lord.
3) For those who have died because of their addictions, may they now rest in the peace and joy of God’s love through all eternity, let us pray to the Lord.
Universal Prayers for the Shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas
1) For the innocent victims killed in the shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and for all who die as a result of violence, may they find perpetual peace and joy in heaven, let us pray to the Lord.
2) For the families and friends of those who were killed or wounded in the shooting in Sutherland Springs, and for all those who have experienced violence in their lives, may they be comforted by the love of God and the compassion of all members of our Church, let us pray to the Lord.
3) For members of churches everywhere, may God help us find practical and meaningful ways to overcome dysfunction, evil and violence in our world, let us pray to the Lord.
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Faith Catholic Online; Daily Prayer 2018; OCP; Magnificat; Liturgical Press.
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General Intercessions for Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
11 February, 2018 – Cycle B
Presider: The Lord Jesus, who healed the leper, is ready to bring his grace to all in need. Through him, therefore, we now pray to the Father.
Deacon or Reader:
- That we, the Church, will show to those who struggle in life, a compassion modelled on Jesus, who accepted everyone with equal kindness; We pray to the Lord.
- For unity in the human family: that God will protect all who are participating in the Olympics and promote a spirit of cooperation amongst all nations, races and peoples; We pray to the Lord.
- That those who care for people with unsightly or contagious illnesses, scars, or damaged limbs will not be afraid, but see the person for who they are: a child of God and a living image of Jesus; We pray to the Lord.
- For the transformation of our attitudes: that we may recognize our bodies as Temples of the Holy Spirit and the sacred gift of our sexuality; We pray to the Lord.
- That married people and those engaged to be married may reflect, in the sacrament of their life together, God’s love for all his people; We pray to the Lord.
- For the sick of our parish, including . . . . and for those who live with incurable or unpleasant illnesses: that they will not give up hope, but carry their cross with dignity and receive respect from all whom they meet; We pray to the Lord.
- That the experience of death will lead people to the fullness of the things of God for all eternity, remembering today . . . . And in a special way we honor
5pm Paul Gegg 7:30am Cicerilli Family
9am Rubin Minowitz 11am our St. Peter Parish Family
5pm Thomas Hilgeman
for whom this Mass is offered; We pray to the Lord.
Presider: Divine Physician, healer of bodies and souls, stretch out your hand and touch us. Cleanse our hearts from the sin that separates us from you and one another. Recreate us in your own image, and heal us of the leprosy of selfishness and injustice. Make us clean and whole in your love and compassion through your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
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