St. Anthony of Padua – Patron Saint for the Recovery of Lost and Stolen Items

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Monday was the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua, a Portugese Franciscan friar who died at the age of 35 in the year 1231 in Padua, Italy.  He was a holy priest, loved by everyone and known for his preaching, knowledge of scripture, and care of the sick and homeless.  He was canonized by Pope Gregory IX in less than a year after his death.  He is considered the patron saint for the recovery of lost and stolen Items.  

Yesterday I decided to invoke his assistance.

There’s been some strange and mysterious stuff going on around my house lately.  Too many things have come up missing.  I don’t understand it and I can’t explain it but something’s going on.  I need St. Anthony’s help.

Monday night we had a tremendous storm roll through our area with intense lightning, heavy rain, and unbelievably strong straight-line winds.  It only lasted a half hour or so but it knocked out our power and downed one large maple tree and broke two others in half.  I do not own a generator so we ate dinner by candlelight and then went to bed when it got dark.  

We awoke yesterday morning with still no power.  I wanted to reach out to friends to see how they fared but my cell phone was almost dead and, with no power, I had no way to recharge it.  So, I went to my vehicle to plug my phone into the car charger but it was nowhere to be found.  I have an identical charger in my wife’s car so I went to plug it in there.  Again, no car phone charger.  Both gone.  An hour later I picked one up for $30.00 at a department store which fortunately had power.

Monday, I was sanding down a table top in preparation for refinishing.  There was a small crack in the oak top which needed filling with a little wood putty.  I went to my storage cabinet where I thought I had a tube of putty purchased last year for another project but it was nowhere in sight.  I’d used a quarter teaspoon of putty out of that tube and now it’s gone.  Six dollars later I had a new tube.

Last week I lost two pair of reading glasses.  I have searched every room in the house and garage to no avail.  I have (had) about six pair laying around but these two were my favorites.  

The week before I lost a fairly new pair of sun glasses.  They were in my truck and I moved them to my wife’s car and now they’re in neither place.  Gone.

That same week I lost a spoon and fork that belonged to a friend who left them at my house.  One day I had them and was going to take them to his house but something else came up and I didn’t get to deliver them.  The next day when I went to take them to him, they were gone.

A few days before that I changed the oil in my truck.  I have a long-nozzle funnel which I need to add new engine oil.  I use it for this one purpose only and keep it with the other items I need for changing oil but it, also, had disappeared.  

I don’t know what’s going on but it’s getting frustrating.  I don’t have any children at home to hide my stuff, and nobody’s asked to borrow anything.  Maybe I’m losing it?  As you read this, does it sound like I’m getting feeble minded?  Is forgetting where one puts things the first phase of dementia?  I’m at my wit’s end.  It’s time to invoke St. Anthony.

“O Holy St. Anthony, gentlest of Saints, your love for God and Charity for His creatures, made you worthy, when on earth, to possess miraculous powers. Encouraged by this thought, I implore you to obtain for me the return of the above mentioned items. O gentle and loving St. Anthony, whose heart was ever full of human sympathy, whisper my petition into the ears of the sweet Infant Jesus, who loved to be folded in your arms; and the gratitude of my heart will ever be yours. Amen.”

(St. Anthony of Padua – Patron Saint for the Recovery of Lost and Stolen Items was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2022 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

Ask and You Shall Receive

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(A reflection on the Gospel of John 16:23-28)

One night a week or so ago I didn’t sleep well and I woke up groggy and too late to go to 7:30 morning mass.  In fact, I barely had time to get my act together and make it to 9:00 mass at another parish.  I didn’t have time for my morning meditation and, because of the slew of errands i I had to run during the day, I knew I wouldn’t be able to fit it in until my Adoration hour that evening.  So, my resolution for the day was the standard I use in situations like this:  “Heavenly Father, grant me the grace to recognize and act on the opportunities you present to me today to be charitable to others.  I ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

My first stop after leaving mass was the grocery store.  As I pulled into the parking lot the skies opened up and it began to pour down rain.  I decided to wait it out and lay my seat back and take a little nap until it stopped raining.  I checked the clock to see what time it was and then closed my eyes.  Three minutes later, just as I was about to doze off, I heard a knocking on my window.  There, looking me in the eyes with her nose almost touching the glass, with either rain or tears running down her cheeks, was a young woman asking, “Sir, my car won’t start, would you mind giving me a jump?”

I immediately replied, “I don’t have any jumper cables” (which was the truth), to which she responded, “I do!”.  I couldn’t very well say we should wait until it stops raining since she was already soaked to the bone, so I agreed to help her.

The shopping cart corral was between her car and mine so I pulled out and maneuvered my truck close to her little sedan.  By the time I got my hood opened I was already sopping wet.  The young woman pulled her jumper cables out of her back seat and they were the shortest set of cables I’d ever seen, only about three feet long and they wouldn’t reach my battery.  I repositioned closer to her car, reopened the hood and connected the cables, which barely reached, and soon we had her car started.  As I disconnected the cables and closed the hood, she politely told me, “Thank you.”

I got back in my truck and pulled back into my parking spot.  As I watched her pull away I realized the extent of my sogginess.  I started to complain when it hit me that I had received exactly what I’d asked for, a chance to be charitable to someone else.  I looked upwards and, with a chuckle, prayed, “Lord, you didn’t waste any time, did you!”  In my imagination I could hear God, with a chuckle in His voice saying, “You asked for it so I gave it to you.  Thank you, my son”, to which I replied, “You’re welcome….and thank You!”

This memory came back to me as I read today’s scripture.  In today’s Gospel, John 16:23-28, Jesus tells us that “whatever you ask the Father in my name He will give it to you….ask and you will receive so that your joy will be complete.”  This was nearly the last thing Jesus said to His disciples before He was arrested.  It was His last request to His friends.  He had told them He was going away but He would send the Advocate to be with them in His absence.  He wanted them to know that He wasn’t leaving them alone and if they trusted in Him they would still find joy no matter what.

Jesus wants us to trust Him, too.  He wants us to know that His Spirit is with us all the time and all that we have to do is call upon Him and ask Him for what we need.  We please Him immensely when our request is for something good, something that is in line with making us like Him, something that leads us toward holiness.  

If our request is for something that is not good, we might get what we ask for or we might not.  We might get it to teach us a lesson, or we might not get it because we’ve sold ourself short and He’ll give us something even better.  The important thing is to ask Him, to include Him in our daily lives, to trust that His generosity will provide the best for us and that it will complete our joy.

How often do you ask Him for help?

“Lord Jesus, I know that I don’t ask You for Your help nearly enough.  You’ve told me that, without You, I can do nothing.  I need to take that to heart and spend more time asking You for the good things in life like:  loving my family and neighbors as they deserve to be loved, being more virtuous, and loving You more dearly by spending quality time with You in prayer.  Come, Holy Spirit!  Amen.”

(Ask and You Shall Receive was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2022 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

The Good Shepherd

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Icon of the Good Shepherd

Yesterday’s Gospel, Jn 10:1-10, brought back memories from long ago.  Like 53 years ago when I was 12 years old living in the small village of High Ham, Somerset, England.  My friend, John, a year older than me, lived a few hundred yards down the road.  John and his family were dairy farmers with a fine herd of Holstein cows.  And, they had a large flock of sheep which they raised for the wool.  I spent every moment I could down on John’s farm helping with anything his dad would let me.  I learned to milk and feed cows, deliver calves, shovel manure, cut, bale and pitch hay, drive a tractor and a car, and herd and shear sheep.  

To the best of my recollection, I enjoyed every aspect of it – some more than others.  Perhaps my least favorite was herding the sheep.  I think I preferred shoveling manure to messing with those unruly critters.  Driving the flock from one pasture to another was always a challenge.  If one sheep got a notion to jump through a hedge or over a low spot in a rock wall into someone’s yard, they all followed the leader.  I did not have what it took to herd sheep.  But John, he was the good shepherd.  He had the knack.  When he was herding them down the main road through the village they were perfect darlings.  He loved those fluffy ovines and they loved him.  He treated them gently and kindly, and spoke to them softly.  With John, they were happy sheep. Me, I just wanted them to do what I wanted them to do – go from point A to point B without detouring to points C, D, E and F along the way.  But, they wouldn’t listen to what I had to say.

In the 53 years since then I’ve learned that people can be the same way.  We know who loves us and who doesn’t, who cares for us and who has our best interest at heart.  Just like sheep, we can sense the difference between someone who is loving, caring, and sincere, and someone who is trying to control us for their own purposes.  We become friends with the former and turn our backs on the latter.  

Or not.  Some folks decide they don’t need any help making it through life.  They can do it on their own.  Wander where they will with no concern for anyone else.  They’ll jump the hedge when something spooks them, and poop in someone else’s yard and think nothing of it.  Their actions are driven by fear, or because it feels good, or because it’s convenient, or to simply show they can.  But, they’re never really happy.

Still others let other people lead them to places they shouldn’t go, and they blindly follow. Often these are unhealthy relationships based on false love. Some idolize entertainers, politicians, or athletes thinking happiness will be found if they can be like them.

For my part, since I began to follow Jesus ten years ago, I’ve learned that no one loves and cares for me more than He does.  It’s His voice I listen for each morning as I sit in the solitude and silence of my daily meditation, conversing with Him, asking Him what His will is for me each day.  He is my Good Shepherd.  I know where He is leading me, to heaven, and I want to get there virtuously without detouring and ending up in other places that He doesn’t want me to go.  Why?  Because I hear His voice and follow Him out of love.  It’s where I find true happiness.

To whom do you listen?  Is it the Good Shepherd?  Or is it the harsh and demanding voice of today’s world that invokes anxiety; or the inviting call of pride; or the sexy but illusory whisper of self-pleasure that beckons you?

“Lord Jesus, You are my Good Shepherd.  I find peace and consolation each day knowing that You are watching over me, that You know what is best for me, and that You will lead me there.  All I have to do is listen to and follow You.  Amen.”

(The Good Shepherd was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2022 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

Be Like St. Mark

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St. Mark the Evangelist, Frans Hals, 1625

Today is the feast of St. Mark the Evangelist, the author of the second Gospel.  Mark tells us that Jesus told the eleven Apostles, “Go into the world and proclaim the gospel.”  Tradition tells us Peter preached in Turkey and Italy, Thomas in India, Philip in Greece, Andrew in Ukraine and Russia.  Mark evangelized Egypt.  Others went elsewhere. Together, risking their lives, they spread the Good News.  

But, they didn’t get everywhere.  They saved the low risk people for you and me:  our next door neighbors, brothers-in-law, hair dressers, and plumbers.

Be like St. Mark.  Go and evangelize!

(Lord Jesus, I give you thanks for the grace of fortitude bestowed on me in the Sacrament of Confirmation that overcomes any fear I may have of evangelizing to those who may not know you.  Help us all, Lord, to complete the work of the Apostles, St. Mark and the other Evangelists.  Amen.)

(Be Like St. Mark was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2022 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

Random Musings on a Spring Morning

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My dear friend, Bob, and I were sharing stories a few evenings ago, both aware of how God has abundantly blessed us with family and friends.  Like me, Bob has been graced with the gift of tears and as we talked those began to well up and leak out. It’s often difficult to express how it feels to be on the receiving end of Christ’s infinite love and mercy, especially when we don’t feel we deserve it.  I can’t think of a better reason for tears of joy to be shared among friends.  The next morning, Bob sent me the following reflection that expressed that feeling perfectly.  I asked, and he consented to let me share it with you on Reflections of a Lay Catholic.  Thank you, Bob.

Random Musings on a Spring Morning, by Bob Magness

It’s been a bit of a surreal morning, enjoying a cup of coffee thinking about the day ahead and reflecting on the day that was.  The sun was poking through the trees and for the first time in a long time there was dew on the ground- not frost!  And my thoughts turned green.  Green with the thoughts of leaves budding from the trees… Green with the spring season… but mostly Green with the thoughts of the garden and the vegetable season ahead.  I like gardening.  I like the smell of soil and how it feels in your hands.  I like the promise of hope from putting that seed into that soil.  Hope that it sprouts and hope that it produces.  Hope is a pretty good thing.  

I got up to fill the coffee cup and clean the coffee pot.  And in doing so, I put the coffee grounds into the compost bin.  Yeah, I compost.  But it’s a lazy man’s compost.  It basically consists of coffee grounds and eggshells and whatever vegetable scraps we happen to produce throughout the week.  And then this goes into a pile behind the shed.  The unwanted, the scraps, the not pretty parts.  It’s amazing how much is generated- all that stuff you’d just as soon forget about – that you don’t want anyone to see.  So, into a pile it goes and thru the magic of Heaven and Earth a robust soil is created.   And it is magic especially if you garden- because it’s almost alchemy in its ability to turn that discarded rubbish into a black gold.  

My thoughts turned to Jesus’ Parable of the Sower and Seeds and how some of the seeds fall on rocky ground and some of the seeds get mixed in with weeds and of course the preferred case where the seeds fall on fertile ground.  There’s probably a reason most people remember this parable even if they can’t remember the Book or Chapter or Verse.  It’s a great analogy and lesson that leads to deep conversation about whether you are the sower or the seed and how your perception transitions depending on where you are in that particular moment in time.  It occurs to me that no one ever talks about the terrain in which those seeds fall.  Perhaps we think that the terrain is static and unable to change.  

I remember hiking and seeing trees growing through the tiniest of cracks on a nothing but rock-faced landscape of a mountainside.  And I thought about how that seed was able to penetrate even the tiniest of cracks and even thrive in that rock.  And once in that tiny crack it’s able to open that rock and allow more soil which invites more seeds and increases that crack…a vicious cycle if you’re a rock. I began to think about glaciers and their ability to flatten mountains and grind those rocks into sand and how this helps the plants extract the valuable mineral content.   And again, I thought of Christ’s word and God’s ability to change anything.  But mostly I was thinking about that tree on the side of the mountain.  I concluded that Hope is the reason it’s holding on to that rock face.    

And I returned to my compost and what that compost has been able to do to the native, neglected, heavy clay soil in which my garden started all those years ago.  The biology that happens in that compost pile is worth noting – fungi and mold start the process. Then worms and insects move in to break down that material into something that is not only usable but beneficial.  Biology- more things that people don’t want to talk about and endure but it’s part of that magic.  It’s not a quick process, it can seem like a glacier.  Maybe it would proceed more quickly if I followed the rules or did it better.  Every now and then I’ll turn the pile to mix but mostly it just sits there.  When it’s ready, I add to the existing garden bed and plant. The seeds and plants flourish; and everyone comments how great the garden looks and how good those fruits and vegetables taste.  All from the discarded rubbish- those kitchen scraps and eggshells and coffee grounds and how they became part of my garden.  

All the unspoken things from earlier times… and my mind reflected on all those things I would rather not talk about.  Those scraps of bad actions and broken eggshells of worse ideas.  Like that lazy compost pile behind the shed, and what is returned has an amazing ability to amend the poor and rocky soil of my heart.  And somehow that pile produced a family garden.  Not through any work of my hand, but in giving that mess to Christ.  A garden.  Beauty beyond measure.  Pride beyond words.  

And there are still some thistle seeds present- always present.  I like to blame the finches but somewhere I know the truth.  

And there are still rocks in that garden.  

But there’s hope that the seeds sprout and take root and produce fruit and then yet more seeds.

And hope is a pretty good thing.

(Random Musings on a Spring Morning was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2022 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

Peace in Knowing the Meaning of Easter

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(Editor’s note: In the original posting yesterday, the link to the included homily broadcast did not work. It has been corrected.)

Resurrection of Christ, Noel Coypel, c. 1700

Happy Easter, everyone!  Christ is risen today!  Alleluia! 

It’s been a beautiful day here in Southwest Ohio.  A perfect day to celebrate and be joyful.  It didn’t begin that way for me, though.  I caught my annual springtime cold on Thursday and it’s steadily worsened.  I did go to the Mass of the Lord’s Supper Thursday evening and coughed and sneezed my way through it.  And, as my cold got worse overnight, I knew better than to go to the Stations of the Cross and the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, and  I decided to skip going to the Easter Vigil Mass as well.

After a fitful night’s sleep I poured myself out of bed this morning and made it to 9:00 a.m. Mass.   I managed to make it through with only a few coughs and no sneezes. But, between my head being stopped up and the additional noise from all the extra people, I didn’t understand a word of Father’s homily. 

In resignation, I closed my eyes and repeated Simon Peter’s words from the Transfiguration, “It’s good that I am here”, and gave thanks for the opportunity to offer up my suffering and unite it to His cross.

As I stood to go up to communion I recalled the words from the second reading, Col 3:1-4, “Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”  With each step forward I was drawn to the glory of Christ resurrected, and away from the fogginess I’d been experiencing all morning.  By the time I reached the priest to receive the Eucharist, I felt an intense inner peace and knew I was smiling from ear to ear.  As I walked back to my seat, letting the Body of Christ dissolve on my tongue, I looked upwards, still smiling, thinking of what is above, and I spied above the entrance doors to the church the Risen Christ on the cross with His arms spread wide in love.  He was saying to me, “Your life is hidden here with Me.”  

As I knelt back at my seat and said my prayer of thanksgiving after communion, that feeling stayed with me.  I wasn’t focused on the way I felt, didn’t work to fend off a coughing fit or stifle a sneeze.  I just focused on Jesus, thankful for the hope that my destiny will be with him.  I knew that I will suffer things in my life much worse than a common cold, but in the end all of it will pale in comparison to the joy I will find when I find myself with Him.

I left Mass feeling pumped up spiritually yet drained physically, and still somewhat frustrated that I hadn’t heard well enough to understand Father’s homily.  I felt a little cheated.  Then, about two hours later, I received a message from a friend with a link to a homily from Fr. Ehli at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Bismarck, North Dakota, where my friend’s daughter attends church.  It was like the Holy Spirit heard my grumblings and blessed me with what was probably an even better homily on which to meditate.  It hit home with me and I feel I need to share it with you here:  Fr. Ehli’s homily.  The homily begins at the 20:30 mark and ends at 31:30.  I won’t give his message away except to say that, between it and my experience at Mass, knowing what’s in store at the end makes the getting there, even with springtime colds and other struggles, much more peaceful.

I pray that your Easter has been a joyful one, that your Hope has found new life knowing that Christ defeated death and He is holding a place for you.  God bless you!

“Lord Jesus, You suffered and died for me and redeemed me of my sins.  Your resurrection defeated death and gave the world hope that, by following You, we may also defeat death and live with you for all eternity.  Thank you!  Amen.”

Resolution: I desire to sow the seeds of this Word today by making a concrete resolution to live with more peace in the present moment.

(Peace in Knowing the Meaning of Easter was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2022 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

Facing Temptations

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(A reflection on the Gospel of Luke 4:1-13)

The Temptation of Christ, Juan de Flandes, c. early 1500s.

Today’s Gospel is Luke’s account of the temptation of Jesus. My Bible has many dates written next to this passage indicating I’ve read and meditated on it several times.  But, today, something caught my attention for the first time:  “Jesus…was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil.” (Lk 4:1-2).

Jesus didn’t just wander into the desert, He didn’t decide to take a mini vacation, or simply try to get away from it all.  No, God took Jesus there.  It was God’s will.  

One’s first thought might be, “Why would God do that?” Well, I think it was to test the human side of Jesus, to lay before Him a trial so that He could prove Himself.  Would He truly trust in God as He was taught in Psalm 91:1-2, that God would be His refuge and fortress, even with the devil trying to trick Him by reciting verses 11 and 12 from the same Psalm?  We know, of course, that Jesus passed the test and the devil “departed from Him…for a time.”

We may often wonder why we are faced with evil, with hardships, failed relationships and any measure of things we didn’t choose, can’t change, and don’t like.  Sometimes God may impose inconveniences and certain sufferings to test our faith, our resolve, and our willingness to trust in Him.  But, sometimes, God allows things to happen that challenge us, make us dig deep for courage, or cause us to love in ways we are not used to loving.  Sometimes we have to give up and turn loose of things to which we are attached.  Either way, God is putting us in the desert for a while, asking us to make room so that we can replace those attachments with Him. 

We are in the season of Lent and we are trying to prove ourselves by devoting more time to prayer, to making room for Him through fasting, and being more charitable through almsgiving.  We have been led into the desert by the Spirit.  The devil will certainly try to derail our promises with various temptations.  Be strong.  Don’t cave in.

And, any other time of the year, we will also find ourselves in situations, either imposed or allowed by God, where we will be tested.  Our trust in Him will be on the line.  When we are tempted, we need to ask ourselves, “Is this the right thing to do?”  Although the devil will lie to us and encourage us to listen to our feelings and say, “Yes”, we can prove ourselves by taking a moment to listen to our heart and our intellect and let those drive our decisions.  

How will you be tested this week?  What temptations will you face?  Where has God led you such that you’ve had to trust totally in Him?

Be strong.

Be smart.

Be like Jesus.

“Heavenly Father, help me to resist the lies and temptations of the devil by being more grateful for all the many graces and blessings You’ve laid before me.  Help me to remember all the tough times You have been there for me and how my trust in You pulled me through.  Amen.”

(Facing Temptations was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2022 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

Are You Prepared for Lent?

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Last summer my wife and I remodeled our kitchen and half of the first floor of our house.  Well, actually, we hired a contractor to do the work.  But, there were a few things I reserved for myself.  Before construction began we moved everything we could into the garage except for major furniture items which we moved to the basement.  After work was completed we moved the furniture back into the upstairs.  The stuff in the garage…well, it’s still there.

Another task reserved for myself with the idea of saving a few bucks was painting an accent color on a four by seven foot wall in our living room.  It’s now been seven months and it’s still not painted.

My wife occasionally, and patiently, asks me if I’m ever going to get these things done.  My response has been, “Yes, dear, you don’t have to remind me every six months!”

These things came to mind while reading yesterday’s scripture passages.  In the first reading from James 5:9-12, we are cautioned to keep our promises, to “let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No’”.

In the Gospel, Mark 10:1-12, Jesus and the Pharisees debate whether divorce is permitted in marriage.  In a nutshell, Jesus makes it clear that with marriage, a promise is a promise, and it can’t be undone through simple justification for convenience sake. 

It is four days before the start of Lent and most of us are considering what promises we will make during Lent.  For many, those promises will consist of giving things up, especially food and drink such as quarter pound burgers, chocolate, caffeine, and beer for 40 days.  

But, Lent is about more than giving things up.  It’s about preparing our soul to receive the glory of our Risen Lord at Easter.  The Church has traditionally suggested three ways to do this:  prayer, fasting and almsgiving, often called the Three Pillars of Lent.

The first pillar, prayer, is intended to dispose our hearts and souls to grow in friendship with Christ through conversation with Him.  It’s telling Him what is on our hearts and with what we are struggling.  It’s giving thanks for all we’ve been given and asking His assistance when we know we can’t do something ourselves.  It’s listening to His response, His message about what His will is for us, and then resolving to take action on those inspirations.  That resolution in itself is a “promise” which we then fulfill.

The second pillar, fasting, may include the challenge of giving something up, something difficult that will stretch our efforts.  But, that’s not the whole deal.  It’s more about clearing space in our soul for Jesus.  It’s rooting out the unnecessary stuff that takes up room and crowds Him out of our life.  It’s looking at our poor habits and vices and resolving to change so that God can replace them with virtue.

The third is almsgiving, the component that looks beyond God and ourselves and focuses on those around us.  It’s attention to the needs of others and seeing how we can love others as Christ loves us.  We may think of almsgiving as throwing a few extra coins in the collection basket, or dropping off a few extra boxes of cereal at the food pantry.  Those are good things but they aren’t everything.  It’s good to get creative with almsgiving, to do something which, like fasting, stretches us.  It’s not just about giving of our treasure, but of our time and talent, too.  

Resolutions don’t have to be excruciatingly difficult.  Keep them simple but challenging, doable and worthy of your effort.

I’ve never shared my Lenten resolutions because I didn’t want it to appear like a prideful thing.  But, this year, I am in hope they will help others use this season to become the person God created them to be.  Here are mine:

Prayer – I resolve to spend at least 30 minutes in meditation, reflecting, making a resolution and keeping it, every day without missing a day.

Fasting – I resolve to set aside the comforts associated with idleness and procrastination and be diligent about completing projects around the house.

Almsgiving – I resolve to write a note a day to 40 people whom I love and cherish, letting them know how much they mean to me.

In your effort to grow closer to Christ, the evil one will put obstacles in your path, especially the need to rationalize and justify why you should give up on your resolutions.  Do not give in!

“Dear Jesus, You sacrificed everything for me.  This Lenten season, help me to make sacrifices that will make room for You in my life.  Amen.”

(Are You Prepared for Lent? was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2022 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

Feed Your Flock

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(A reflection on 1 Pt 5:1-4)

Christ’s Charge to Peter, Raphael, c. 1515

One of the most significant moments in Simon Peter’s relationship with Jesus was the third time Jesus revealed Himself to them after His resurrection when He asked Peter three times, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”  Peter answered three times, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You!”.  And three times Jesus asked Peter to take care of His flock. (Jn 21:15-17)

Peter obviously took that request to heart and remembered it for the rest of his life.  In yesterday’s first scripture reading from 1 Pt 5:1-4, Peter writes to the Presbyters, the teachers of the faith, to tend to and be examples to the “flock of God”.

This passage struck me in a number of ways.  First, I recalled the many sentiments that were offered from comments at our deanery’s recent Synod on Synodality meeting.  Although those present were a mere microcosm of our Church, there seemed to be a general opinion that one of the problems in our Church today is that our bishops and priests are not adequately “feeding their sheep” or “tending their flock”. 

Secondly, it brought to mind that we are all called to be teachers of the faith in one way or another – through our vocations as a parent or friend, through our occupations, and our volunteerism in various ministries.  We only have to recall Jesus’ words to His disciples when He was faced with feeding the five thousand, “Give them some food yourselves” (Lk 9:13), to understand that He wants us to join with Him in His mission to save souls.

Today more than ever, our Lord needs us all, you and me, to help feed and tend His flock.  Too many are not being fed and are straying to what looks like “greener” pasture in today’s world of materialism, idealism and relativism.  Once they leap that fence they become easy prey for the wolves.  We need to fertilize our “Catholic” pasture so that the grazing sates their appetites.

How do we tend to the flock?  I think the first step is to set aside the idea that our faith is something that is done to us, that it’s someone else’s responsibility.  With too few priests and deacons to go around, the laity needs to take some ownership in their personal faith formation and that of those in their “pasture”.  We need to become better catechized, grow deeper in our relationships with Christ through prayer, and live virtuous lives that are examples of holiness to others.

Every person has an opportunity to be a witness to someone who is hungering for the Bread of Life and thirsting for the Living Water.  We need to remember that Jesus gave us one mission, to make disciples of all nations, and we need to make that a priority in our lives.  We don’t have to become missionaries or monks, we just need to live simply and find synergies in our everyday lives that will edify our families, friends and acquaintances.

We need to remember that the basic building block of our Church is not the parish, but rather our homes, the Domestic Church.  If we want to rebuild our Church we need to recall how the Apostles and the first disciples lived after Christ’s death.  Theirs was a two-pronged approach:  to stick together and build and protect their community, and to draw others into it by teaching them the truth of the Gospel.  We can do that with our families by practicing our faith with our children.  We can live hospitality and invite people into our homes for friendship and good conversation which may lead to opportunities to pray together.

We need to look for opportunities to be charitable to those in need by practicing the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.

We need to not be afraid to practice our faith in our work places as employers and employees; at school as educators and students; in athletics as fellow athletes and coaches; and where we volunteer.

Our faith ought to be personal but it should never be private.  We need to be bold and leave others with no doubt about our love for Jesus.

Put more succinctly, as laity, we need to step up our game, take ownership and not depend on just our clergy to feed the flock.  We need to survey our “pasture” of influence and determine who is grazing mindlessly in that pasture and on the verge of wandering off.  We need to provide them with “green grass” that will nourish and satisfy their souls.

What is your pasture?  Who is in your flock?  How can you feed and tend to them with the love of Christ?

“Dear Jesus, thank you for providing priests and friends who, through their gentle love and care, have shepherded me in my faith life.  I pray for the grace to do the same for those whom I mentor and lead to you through spiritual friendship.  Amen.”

(Feed Your Flock was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2022 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.

It Is Good That We Are Here!

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(A reflection on the Gospel of Mark 9:2-13)

In today’s Gospel we find Peter, James and John atop Mount Tabor where Jesus is transfigured before them.  Elijah and Moses appear to them and converse with Jesus, terrifying the three disciples.  Peter, with deep respect, amazement, and, uncharacteristically, at a loss for words, tells Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here!”

As we attend mass this weekend, or any day when we receive communion, let us remember that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist in all his divine glory.  Let us remember to tell Him, “Jesus, it is good that I am here!”

When we make a Holy hour of Adoration, let us remember that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist whom we adore, and let us remember to tell Him, “Jesus, it is good that I am here!” 

And, any time we enter a church, let us remember that Jesus is alive and at home in the Tabernacle and is welcoming us in.  Let us remember to tell Him, “Jesus, it is good that I am here!”

“Dear Jesus, You are my Savior, my Redeemer.  You love me more than I can ever imagine.  You are always by my side.  May I never forget Your presence and to love You in return.  Amen.”

(It Is Good That We Are Here! was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

©2013-2022 Reflections of a Lay Catholic. Reposting and sharing of material in its full and original content is permitted, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and Reflections of a Lay Catholic.