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Saturday, Feb 20, 2021 SATURDAY AFTER ASH WEDNESDAY Off to a good start?
This is only the fourth day of Lent, and already we had a day of fasting and abstinence on Wednesday and another day of abstinence yesterday. During Lent back in the Middle Ages, Catholics weren’t supposed to eat anything before 3 p.m. In the monasteries, that was the hour the “Nones” prayers were recited. So no eating until after Nones. But the monks would move the Nones hour up to 12 o’clock so they could eat earlier. That’s how the 12 o’clock hour got the name “noon.” While we can eat at any hour today, every day is a good day to control our appetites. What hunger stands between you and a peaceful heart? Can you put it on pause at least for a day?
TODAY'S READINGS: Isaiah 58:9b-14; Luke 5:27-32 (222). “I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”
Sunday, Feb 21, 2021 FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT Doing the rite thing
Today, some of our neighbors are going to make a countercultural choice. They’re going to sign the Book of the Elect, signaling their decision to be baptized, confirmed, and to receive First Eucharist at this year’s Easter Vigil. These Elect have been studying for months or years to embrace the life of the church. Why would anyone make this choice in the 21st century? For some, it may have begun as intellectual curiosity. For others, it’s a journey of the heart. For all, it’s what they’ve seen in folks like us that make Catholic Christianity an inspiring choice. Let’s help keep the inspiration going!
TODAY'S READINGS: Genesis 9:8-15; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:12-15 (23). “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Monday, Feb 22, 2021 FEAST OF THE CHAIR OF PETER, APOSTLE Recognize the chair
Jesus loved us so much that he entrusted us to someone he trusted deeply. In fact, in the Gospel of John, Jesus asked Peter three times if his devotion was assured. He named him “rock” so he would be a solid foundation upon which to build the church, and for 2,000 years Peter’s successors have had the responsibility of tending his sheep. Today we celebrate the seat of the pope’s authority as Christ’s representative on Earth, the protector Jesus wanted for his flock. Ask the Holy Spirit to always guide the one who sits in Peter’s chair.
TODAY'S READINGS: 1 Peter 5:1-4; Matthew 16:13-19 (535). “I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.”
Tuesday, Feb 23, 2021 MEMORIAL OF POLYCARP, BISHOP, MARTYR Words to live forever by
Polycarp’s death in 155 is one of the first accounts of Christian martyrdom in a public arena. The elderly bishop was resolute and serene even as he was burned and stabbed before a frenzied crowd. Included in the accounts is the two hours of prayer Polycarp began upon his arrest, so powerful it unnerved his Roman guards. But Polycarp was also an Apostolic Father, specifically a disciple of Saint John the Evangelist. Thus, he had firsthand knowledge of John’s words from Jesus: “Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”
TODAY'S READINGS: Isaiah 55:10-11; Matthew 6:7-15 (225). "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
Wednesday, Feb 24, 2021 LENTEN WEEKDAY A good day to make amends
We are one week into this Lenten season, so perhaps it is time to have a conversation with our Lord. Imagine you are walking with Jesus, side by side, and he asks you, “Is there any person you think of who you have hurt or judged, or any action that comes to mind that you know was wrong? Anything you repent?” You take a moment, and standing next to him, you feel his love for you. Regret and sorrow arise as you admit the mistakes that come to mind. You ask for the grace to make amends in whatever way possible. Find a way today to make something right.
TODAY'S READINGS: Jonah 3:1-10; Luke 11:29-32 (226). “At the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.”
Thursday, Feb 25, 2021 LENTEN WEEKDAY Has prayer moved you?
It is tempting to think about prayer in a transactional way: I ask, therefore God gives. Today’s gospel may even appear to encourage this form of thought: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find.” But Catholic teaching urges us to see God’s response to prayer broadly. Pope Francis explains: “Prayer always transforms reality: if things around us do not change, at least our hearts are changed. Jesus promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to every man and woman who prays.” If you have a prayer that seems unanswered, consider how your heart was moved by the mere act of praying.
TODAY'S READINGS: Esther C:12, 14-16, 23-25; Matthew 7:7-12 (227). “For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds.”
Friday, Feb 26, 2021 LENTEN WEEKDAY; DAY OF ABSTINENCE The low rumble within
Anger is one of our human “passions,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church instructs, neither good nor bad in and of itself. Anger can provide us with helpful information that we feel wronged by someone or something. It may be intense or a low rumble within. Lent is an opportunity to become still, listen to our anger, and examine its source. How might we invite God into these rough spaces for healing? Desiring healing does not disregard hurt or suffering; rather we seek to “unhook” from anger to live in peace. Unhooking might mean talking with a loved one who hurt us. It might mean protesting against injustice. It might mean forgiving ourselves. What might be rumbling within your heart?
TODAY'S READINGS: Ezekiel 18:21-28; Matthew 5:20-26 (228). “Go first and be reconciled.”
Saturday, Feb 27, 2021 LENTEN WEEKDAY Agree to disagree
There is no more timely message for our divided age of partisan politics than “love your enemies.” But how is that even possible? One perspective that some find helpful is that “you don’t have to like someone to love them.” Love in this context is not a warm, fuzzy feeling but a decision to treat with respect, to “do unto others.” A tall order, but it does help to remove the expectation that we have to become fast friends with those we oppose. And maybe it will lead to a time when we can see difficult folks as people with whom we happen to disagree, rather than mortal enemies. Jesus was all about reconciliation. Let’s take up the mantle.
TODAY'S READINGS: Deuteronomy 26:16-19; Matthew 5:43-48 (229). “But I say to you, love your enemies.”
Sunday, Feb 28, 2021 SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT Go all in
Erin became a Roman Catholic in midlife. When asked why, she says she tried fiercely to make life work according to her plan. Erin told God many times how it should go, attempting to persuade the powers that be to see it her way. Then one day God replied: My plan for you is so beautiful, wonderful, elegant. Why not try it instead? When Erin celebrated the Rites for Candidates for Full Communion on a Lenten Sunday just like this one, she found the joy she was missing. Pray for this year’s candidates—and for candidates for years to come.
TODAY'S READINGS: Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18; Romans 8:31b-34; Mark 9:2-10 (26). “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Monday, Mar 01, 2021 LENTEN WEEKDAY Mercy me!
Pope Francis called mercy the "beating heart of the gospel." Mercy is forbearance, divine favor, compassionate treatment of the distressed and undeserving. It’s another word for God’s love. Consider showing devotion to it by reciting the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, a rosary-based prayer that was received by Saint Faustina, a Polish nun in the 1930s, through visions of Jesus. Divine Mercy Sunday is celebrated the week after Easter, but many make the Chaplet part of their regular Lenten practice by reciting it every day at 3 p.m. (the traditional hour of Christ’s death). You can find the Chaplet on the website.
TODAY'S READINGS: Daniel 9:4b-10; Luke 6:36-38 (230). “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
Tuesday, Mar 02, 2021 LENTEN WEEKDAY Celebrate humble history
Women’s History Month celebrates well-known women but also unsung heroines. How appropriate, then, that today is the feast of Agnes of Bohemia, a lesser-known saint. First cousin of Elizabeth of Hungary—and descendent of Good King Wenceslaus—Agnes came upon her vocation naturally. She built a hospital for the poor, a Franciscan friary, and a monastery for Poor Clare nuns. When she also became a nun and was urged to become abbess, she referred to herself only as “senior sister.” She continued to cook for her sisters and mend the clothing of lepers rather than live a royal life. Celebrate the unsung heroines in your life.
TODAY'S READINGS: Isaiah 1:10, 16-20; Matthew 23:1-12 (231). "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Wednesday, Mar 03, 2021 MEMORIAL OF KATHARINE DREXEL, RELIGIOUS FOUNDER We have work to do
Katharine Drexel (1858-1955) is a saint for our time. Born into a successful Philadelphia banking family, she used her wealth to improve the lives of others. Her Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament devoted their lives to education of Native and African Americans, building more than 100 schools in cities, rural areas, and on reservations. Though Katharine and her sisters at times faced criticism, endured racist taunts, and were threatened by the Ku Klux Klan, they remained steadfast in their mission. Patron saint of racial justice and philanthropy, Saint Katharine epitomizes the sacrifice of the Blessed Sacrament. How will you commit your own life to making the world more just?
TODAY'S READINGS: Jeremiah 18:18-20; Matthew 20:17-28 (232). “Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”
Thursday, Mar 04, 2021 MEMORIAL OF CASIMIR Grace under pressure
Saint Casimir seemed destined for riches and power, but this patron saint of Poland, called the Peacemaker, took a different path. Born in 1458 to the king and queen of Poland, he was a devout, ascetic child. At age 14 his father had him lead an army to install himself as king of Hungary, but with an overpowering enemy and troops beginning to desert, Casimir instead returned home. His furious father exiled him, but Casimir would never again take up arms. Rejecting violence when those around you embrace it can take great inner strength. Cultivate an inner compass that can pursue peace despite pressure.
TODAY'S READINGS: Jeremiah 17:5-10; Luke 16:19-31 (233). “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD.”
Friday, Mar 05, 2021 LENTEN WEEKDAY; DAY OF ABSTINENCE Pray for besieged people everywhere
Prayer is our life with God. Sometimes we carve out a particular time during the day, and sometimes there are specific words, images, or experiences that help us be more aware of or express our relationship with God. And so of course during Lent prayer is one of the pillars, along with fasting and almsgiving, that help us turn to God. On today’s 2021 Day of Prayer, an ecumenical observance, we are invited to “Build on a strong foundation.” This theme comes from the women of Vanuatu, an island hit by Cyclone Harold in 2020. Despite the perils they faced—and we've all faced in a year of pandemic—the message of today's prayer is one of confidence in God's steadfastness and the rock of faith. Unite in prayer for healing and recovery.
TODAY'S READINGS: Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28a; Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46 (234). “The kingdom of God will be . . . given to a people that will produce its fruit.”
Saturday, Mar 06, 2021 LENTEN WEEKDAY Sibling rivalry of biblical proportions
The Parable of the Prodigal Son could as easily be called the Parable of the Bitter Brother. The story might have ended with the celebration at the return of the repentant prodigal. But instead we are left to ponder the feelings of the “good son,” the obedient one who followed all the rules but never got a party thrown in his honor. It’s a very human story, reenacted in nearly every family in one form or another. “Mother always liked you best.” “You were Dad’s favorite.” “All we ever did was bail you out of trouble.” Will the bitter brother in the gospel story reconcile? Has bitterness or division in your own family been reconciled? Consider being the reconciler who brings it about.
TODAY'S READINGS: Micah 7:14-15, 18-20; Luke 15:1-3, 11-32 (235). “Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.”