2016 Lent Reflection-Week 1

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Thursday 18 February 2016

Lent provide us with an opportunity to grow in our relationship with God. It allows us to open our hearts and cultivate that peaceful inner silence and allows us to take the time to fully understand the word of the Lord as he speaks to us every day. So as the Psalm 138: 1 says: I will give thanks to you, O Lord with all my Heart for you have heard the words of my mouth; in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise…

Let us take this time and be present to the Lord and listen to his response to daily requests, for God hears all our prayers and he answers them as well. It is not always what we expect, but it is what we need. So reflecting today on the Gospel of Matthew 7: 7-12 that begins with the words: “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you…” highlights that God is omnipresent and that he is always attentive to our needs. In this Year of Mercy let us just take out some time and reflect on the moments we experienced God’s presence in the responses to our requests. Let us turn away from that which keeps us from getting closer to God. Let us see that God is with and in us every day. So let us live more intensely this Jubilee Year, as it is a privilege to be able to celebrate and experience “God’s Mercy” for He is always a merciful God and loving Father.

Prayer for today:

Loving Father we acknowledge your merciful forgiveness at this time. May our hearts and minds be open to your love and responses in our daily lives. Help us to see your presence in our daily lives as we walk through the streets and the malls. Thank you Lord for listening to our cries and pleadings and attending to them. Through Christ our Lord

2016 Lent Reflection-Week 1

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 Wednesday 17 February 2016

The readings of this first week of Lent put us on the right track so that this time of Lent may bear fruit in our daily lives. The key word in today’s readings is ‘repent’. The people of Nineveh, though a pagan people, repented hearing the message of the prophet Jonah. The chosen people, hearing not just the message of a prophet but of Jesus Christ himself, failed to respond and repent.

What about us in this time of Lent. We have been so privileged having received the good news of Jesus Christ, the Word in all its fullness, but do we really value it? Does it really bear fruit in our every-day life? Does the Word fall in good soil where it can grow and bear fruit in works of mercy, both corporal and spiritual?

One of the greatest shortcomings in today’s society, I feel, is the lack of thanksgiving both towards our fellow human beings and towards God. A very common sin which is hardly confessed is the sin of ingratitude. We are showered so many gifts daily both from our parents, our brothers and sisters and from God and we hardly ever remember to say THANK YOU. Let us change that during this time of Lent. Now is the opportune time. Let it not pass without responding.

Bethlehem

 

 

+Bishop Jan A De Groef M.Afr
Diocese of Bethlehem

2016 Lent Reflection-Week 1

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Tuesday 16 February 2016

He saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit – Titus 3:5

What makes people hypocrites? They disguise themselves as good people: they make themselves up [to look] like little holy cards, looking up at heaven as they pray, making sure they are seen… they say, “I’m very Catholic, because my uncle was a great benefactor, my family is this, I’m that … I know this bishop, this cardinal, this priest…” they think they are better than others. This is hypocrisy. The Lord says, “No not that.” No one is justified by himself. We all need to be justified. And the only one who justifies us is Jesus Christ…”

Lent is to adjust life, to fix life, to change life, to draw closer to the Lord. The sign that we are far from the Lord is hypocrisy. The hypocrite does not need the Lord, he is saved by himself – so he thinks – and distinguishes himself as a saint. The sign that we are drawing closer to the Lord with repentance, asking for forgiveness, is that we care for needy brethren.

Homily, March 8th 2014 Pope Francis

Reflection
In what ways do I justify myself?

Prayer
My God, only with your grace can I live in sincerity and truth. Convert me from any tendency to hypocrisy and inspire me with genuine concern for the needs of other.

 

Reflection taken from Lent with Pope Francis (A Pauline publication)

 

 

2016 Lent Reflection-Week 1

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Monday 15 February 2016

1. What is the quality of my relationship with God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit? How can I deepen it further?

2. What role does God play in my interpersonal relationships with myself, my relatives, friends, family and other members of my parish and community?

3. In which way can I personally contribute towards love and care for creation?

Prayer:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving, that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.Amen.

2016 Lent Reflection-Sunday 14 February

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SUNDAY 14 FEBRUARY 2016

Jesus was tempted in every way, just like us but did not sin (Heb 4: 15)

Aristotle, the Greek Philosopher who had a lasting influence on St Thomas Aquinas often said: “An unreflected life is not worth living”. This, I believe is very true for modern men and women in our cities and towns. We live in an age where we are so busy working hard to achieve our noble dreams. We are driven by success, we brand and promote ourselves so that we can rise to fame and become icons and celebrities, in our own right. There is tremendous speed in our life and we find ourselves racing after the latest trends of technology, fashions and modern gadgets which gives us a feeling of being in control of our lives. We can be so obsessed with an insatiable desire for fame, power and success that we don’t have quality time for introspection so that we can become aware of what is happening deep down inside our minds, hearts and spiritual life.

Lent is therefore, “the favourable time of grace and salvation” (2Cor 6:1) We are challenged to stop, look into our lives with eyes of faith, discern properly our values, set our priorities right and make radical choices and decisions that are in harmony with our Christian faith and deepen our relationship with God and with our fellow brothers and sisters.

On this first Sunday of Lent we are invited to ponder upon the example of Jesus, our Merciful High Priest who “was tempted in every way, just like us, but did not sin” (Heb 4:5). The Gospel of St Luke pays great attention to the role of the Holy Spirit in the conception, birth, baptism, vocation, mission and the whole life of Jesus; and the role of the Holy Spirit in the community of believers, the Church. Everything is guided and inspired by the Holy Spirit – ‘the Lord and the Giver of Life’. Jesus who is “filled with the Holy Spirit” makes a pilgrimage to the desert to unite himself more intensely with God his Father, in preparation for his public ministry. It is from this deep spiritual experience of prayer, fasting, reflection, discernment and temptation that Jesus will emerge with a clear mission and vision statement inspired by the Prophet Isaiah which was to encapsulate and define his whole life on earth: “The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free and to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour” (Lk 4: 18 – 19).

Fr. Flor McCarthy says that this was a watershed moment in the life of Jesus and the whole Church – and that is why we relive it every Liturgical year as a form of preparation for Holy week and Easter when we celebrate the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. From this spiritual experience Jesus grew to love solitude and made a habit of seeking it at difficult moments in his life. When people and events threatened to overwhelm him, he would go off to a lonely place to recuperate, recover and rededicate himself to the Father. He always hungered for God, whose ‘food and drink’ it was ‘to do always the will of the Father who sent him’ (Jn 4:34).

We too need a lonely place for prayer, reflection and discernment. Often we live foolishly on the level of our emotions, driven on by disordered desires and imprisoned by selfish habits. We are surrounded by noise and constant hyperactivity. We get our priorities wrong. We are afraid of silence and solitude. We don’t want to “be still and know God”. And we wonder why we aren’t happy, why we don’t find it easy to get on well with others, and why we can’t pray.

We need solitude, that is, ‘to be alone with God’. In solitude we begin to stand on our own feet before God and the world, and accept full responsibility for our own lives. In solitude we meet our demons, our addictions, our selfish desires, our anger, and our need for recognition and approval. We also encounter our ‘true self’, like the prodigal son we ‘come to our senses’.

We don’t go into the wilderness to escape from others, but to find them in God. Thomas Merton shares with us from his personal experience that: “Only in solitude and silence can I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my fellow brothers and sisters”.

 

I wish all of you a fulfilling and fruitful celebration of Lent which will culminate in the profound experience of the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Bishop_Vincent_350

 

 

+Bishop Vincent Mduduzi Zungu OFM
Diocese of Port Elizabeth

2016 Lent Reflection-Saturday 13 February

thurs lenten

SATURDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2016

“The season of Lent in this Jubilee Year is a favourable time to overcome our existential alienation by listening to God’s word and by practising the works of mercy.”

These words of Pope Francis in his message for Lent are an invitation to each one of us to look truthfully at our lives, to listen attentively to what God is saying to us, to be converted and to believe in God’s promise of New Life.

“Existential alienation” are big words but they do describe what most of us experience a lot of the time. During this past year we have heard of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing their homes in Syria, in South Sudan and other places. At times in our own country we have to deal with the scourge of zenophobia. To be an alien in a strange land, to be homeless and without shelter, to be far away from family and friends must be amongst the most tragic experiences that human beings have to deal with. The physical hardships can be horrendous.

There is also a spiritual alienation, what Pope Francis calls “our existential alienation”, an alienation of the soul. This is when we feel alienated or separated from God, from the people around us and even from our deepest selves. Spiritual loneliness is probably the worst form of loneliness and often we seek to deaden the pain through various addictions or ‘idols’. We use material things – food, drink, drugs, media, possessions, inappropriate relationships – to distract us from our emptiness and deep longing; what some call “the hole in the soul”.

The Lenten fast is about putting aside these excessive forms of behaviour and coming face to face with our true need and so “to overcome our existential alienation”. It is to stop hiding our woundedness and instead to rediscover where we can find healing and to recover our hope in the mercy of God. Pope Francis says in his message: ‘Mercy “expresses God’s way of reaching out to the sinner, offering him a new chance to look at himself, convert, and believe” (Misericordiae Vultus, 21), thus restoring his relationship with him. In Jesus crucified, God shows his desire to draw near to sinners, however far they may have strayed from him.’

Our prayer and fasting this Lent, listening attentively to the word of God, experiencing the “24 Hours for the Lord” and confessing our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, participating in pilgrimages through the Holy Door during this Jubilee Year, as well as participating in the Mission in our parishes, are all ways of breaking out of our existential alienation and finding our way back home to God, to our neighbour and to our deepest selves. Forgiving and being forgiven restore us again to our true human dignity and to being temples of the Holy Spirit. And then when we come together to celebrate the Easter Triduum we can say to one another “Welcome Home! We are no longer aliens!”

We also overcome our existential alienation by “practising the works of mercy”, because as Pope Francis says “God’s mercy transforms human hearts; it enables us, through the experience of a faithful love, to become merciful in turn. In an ever new miracle, divine mercy shines forth in our lives, inspiring each of us to love our neighbour and to devote ourselves to what the Church’s tradition calls the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. These works remind us that faith finds expression in concrete everyday actions meant to help our neighbours in body and spirit: by feeding, visiting, comforting and instructing them. On such things will we be judged.”

During this Jubilee Year may God be merciful to you and give you peace!

+Francisco de Gouveia
Bishop of Oudtshoorn


2016 Reflections- Thursday 11 February

 

revision

THURSDAY REFLECTION
THURSDAY  11 February 2016

Scripture: Luke 9:22- 25 (Anyone who loses their life for my sake that person will save it) Reflection

Jesus in this passage of scripture puts before his disciples and us the cost of discipleship. Jesus outlines the way he will take and then asks us the all important question which he leaves us free to choose if we want to follow him. ‘The Son of Man is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day. If anyone wants to be a follower of mine let him renounce himself and take up his cross everyday and follow me’. ‘For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it, but anyone who loses his life for my sake, that person will save it’. ‘What gain, then, is it for a person to have won the whole world and to have lost or ruined his very self. ‘This Gospel passage at the beginning of Lent invites us to reflect on our journey of faith begun in Baptism, with our ‘yes’ to be a follower of Jesus and our reaffirmation of this ‘yes’ in the sacrament of Confirmation. The question we can ask ourselves in this season of Lent, How faithful have we been in following Jesus and carrying our daily cross? That daily cross whatever it maybe, a hurting marriage or

family relationship. Difficulty in finding a job. Challenging financial matters for parents to care and educate their children. Maybe an illness you have to bear that brings pain each day.
Possibly feeling lost and despairing that things in life are too challenging.
Perhaps having lost our way in life and feeling God has abandon us. Or even put down our cross at the side of the road and followed the way of the world. Lent is the season of God’s favour and grace towards us his adopted children through baptism whom he loves. No matter where we are at this time on our journey of faith, lent is a time of new beginnings. This Lent is a special one in the Jubilee Year of Mercy. God invites us to receive his merciful love and forgiveness as we come to the sacrament of confession and humbly repent of our sins. Repentance means reconciling with God and our brothers and sisters. Repentance means choosing once again the path of the cross in loosing our life for Christ’s sake and saving our lives.
Practical Suggestions: Spend some time in prayer and reflection affirming your faith and hope in God’s merciful love. Humbly ask forgiveness of God or anyone you are not at peace with.
Prayer: Lord God help me to choose your way that strengthens my relationship with you. May I take up my daily cross and carry it with you with courage. May I reject the shallow values of the world and understand that to gain the whole world and lose my soul would profit me
nothing. Amen

2016 Lent Reflection – Ash Wednesday

Lenten Appeal ash wed

WEDNESDAY 10 FEBRUARY 2016

Today we begin the six weeks of Lent, a time of grace and a time to reflect on the boundless mercy of God. We undertake certain acts of penance during this time to humbly express sorrow for our sinfulness, to strengthen ourselves against future temptations and to remind ourselves of our complete dependence on God. Lent is a time to look inwardly with honestly to ensure that we are still on track and that we are sincerely modeling our lives on Jesus Christ by living his Word – seeking reconciliation by confessing our sins enables us to do that. This type of “inward assessment” on the state of our discipleship also leads us to a deeper commitment to express our faith in action. Especially in this Holy Year of Mercy we wish, like Christ, to express the mercy of God to others through forgiveness, gentleness and tenderness. We can consciously put into practice the corporal acts of mercy through our concern and love for the hungry, the thirsty, the homeless, the sick and those in prison.

May the radiant beauty of God’s love be mirrored in your life to envelop those you meet ,so that they may encounter the true and everlasting light, Jesus Christ.

Tzaneen

 

 

+Stephen Brislin
Archbishop of Cape Town