First Sunday of Lent • God said to Noah and to the whole earth: I take you to be my people, I promise to be faithful to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health… At Baptism God says these same words to us. Will you be faithful to God, as He has been faithful to you?Read More
Ash Wednesday • Valentine’s Day is about all kinds of love: be my friend, give me candy, and I LUV U. Lent is about one kind of love: God’s love. God’s love makes a covenant with us: “I will be your God, and you will be my people. Forever.”
The Israelite people slowly learned that God was worth more. Do we realize that God’s love for us is worth more than being rich, powerful, popular, or successful? Lent is about trading a few nice things for something so much better: a deeper relationship with God. This Lent put God first and learn for yourself that God is worth more.Read More
This year Ash Wednesday falls on February 14th, commonly commemorated as Valentine’s Day. It’s going to be quite the cultural conundrum for Catholics. Most of America will be thinking romantic thoughts, taking a honey out on a dinner date or surprising her with a box of chocolates. For Catholics, it will be Ash Wednesday as usual: fasting, abstaining from meat, and for many, giving up chocolate!
Ash Wednesday takes precedence, though we might be tempted to just ignore it this year. Let me encourage you to embrace it. The smart thing to do, gentlemen, is to make your Valentine’s Day plans for Tuesday instead. Surprise your honey with dinner out on a not-so-busy night, or an extra fat Tuesday of chocolate and romance. Then you can feel smug while getting smudged, knowing you’ve got in both your loving and your Lenting.
There is a still deeper meaning here. We often think of Lent in terms of giving something up: we fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, we don’t eat meat on the Fridays of Lent, we say extra prayer or do works of service. Fundamentally, Lent is about love. Lent begins with God’s immense, intense love for us. God loved us enough to create us and surround us with a beautiful world. But He gives even more. Through Baptism and Confirmation God has entered into a Covenant of Love with His people. He promises to be totally faithful to us forever.
And we, on the other hand, cannot claim to have been totally faithful to God. Instead of receiving gratefully, we take more than our share of God’s gifts and tell others, “It’s mine!” We too often prefer things to people. Above all, like the prodigal son, we reject our Father himself because we want “our share of the inheritance.” We have not held up our end of the covenant. And should be ashamed. We show our shame by smearing ourselves with ashes, letting go of some nice things, and turning our hearts back to God. In spite of our infidelity, God remains faithful. His love waits patiently for us to leave the pigsty and start for home. What a celebration he throws for us; our small penance leads to a big party! God’s love is worth far more than meat and chocolates. However much you give up for Lent will be tiny in compared to your sins. But it really is the thought that counts.
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) • The leper was like a walking corpse. Jesus touched him and brought him back to life. What good is life if you have no purpose for living? The more we do, the busier we are, the less fulfilled we feel. God made you for a purpose: To know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.
A Catholic funeral Mass reminds our loved ones that we are meant for Eternity. St. Damian and our parish Care Ministers remind the sick of their purpose and value. We need to be reminded regularly of our purpose. What do you focus on that interferes with knowing, loving, and serving God? This Lent, let Jesus bring you back to life.
This book arrived in a stroke of perfect Divine timing. At our priest retreat this past year, a retreat master had described Mary as having an “uncluttered heart.” I have been desiring less clutter in my life. I had come to realize that the clutter in my home and the clutter in my heart were related. This led me to pray for the gift of an uncluttered heart. I had also intended to renew a consecration to Mary on December 8. Initially I had planned to use Fr. Michael Gaitley’s excellent resource 33 Days to Morning Glory.
But then this book came into my hands. Fr. Looney reflects on the heart of Mary as seen through scripture, tradition, and apparition stories. He sprinkles in a generous dose of his own experiences as a young priest. The style in simple, personal, and very accessible. I would even say it’s “uncluttered.” And it fit perfectly for what I was looking for. I used this book to renew my consecration.
Interestingly, Fr. Looney had a similar experience. He writes that he did not intend to write a book of Marian consecration but that is what ended up happening. And I ended up giving the book as a Christmas gift to all our parish staff and volunteers. I’ve gotten much positive feedback from grateful recipients. The book is small and humble, but full of little treasures. Perhaps in that way it reflects the heart of Mary.
Full disclosure: I was provided a promotional copy by the author. I was under no obligation to provide a review and received no compensation other than the free book. The thoughts in this article are my own.
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) • Moses was the greatest prophet in the Old Testament because he went up the mountain to speak to God face to face. But Jesus is greater because he is God come down the mountain. We can have confidence in Jesus: God really loves me, God knows better than I do, and God can bring good out of evil. Have confidence in Jesus and he will teach you how to teach your children.
The Epiphany of the Lord • The Magi respond to God’s love with their own gifts of love: gold for the true King, frankincense for the true God, and myrrh for the true sacrifice. At Christmas we receive God’s gift of love; at Epiphany we give back our own gift of love. Let us open our treasures and give God the gift of almsgiving, prayer, and sacrifice.
The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph (Year B) • Family is a great gift from God. We have to receive this gift and cherish it. We are all responsible for creating a wonderful family. Today we look at St. Joseph. He teaches us three keys to fatherhood: obedience, self-sacrifice, and giving your children back to God. Your family won’t be perfect, but if you follow Joseph’s example, your family will be holy. And that’s what matters in the end.Read More