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Share this table prayer with those you will eat with on Easter Sunday.
 
Pray together:
 
Christ has risen! Alleluia!
Loving God, you who create all things
and generously give us all we need,
we praise you and thank you for being present with us now
as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, your Son.
 
Thank you for accompanying us on our Lenten journey;
please be us during this Easter season, and always,
as we strive to live as disciples of your Son.
 
May the breaking of bread, today and every day,
remind us of the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ,
who died to atone for our sins
and rose again so that we, too, may rise
and live in your presence forever.
 
O God, bless this food and we who share it,
and be with those who cannot share it with us.
 
We ask this in the name of the same Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.
 
Alleluia! Christ has risen!
 
LiveLent
 
 
Excerpted from
Live Lent! Year A by Sr. Theresa Rickard, OP, available from RENEW International.

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We are given the Eucharist, and we must journey with Jesus to the cross.
 
Lord Jesus,
You loved us so deeply that you were
willing to love us unto death, death on a cross.
When we see brothers and sisters
who are suffering and afflicted,
let us see you, and let us respond
with a love “surpassing all understanding”—
your love. Amen.
 
LiveLent
 
 
Excerpted from
Live Lent! Year A by Sr. Theresa Rickard, OP, available from RENEW International.

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As for his beloved friend, Lazarus, Jesus is our resurrection and life.
 
God of freedom, you loose all bonds
that hold us in darkness and sin.
Heal the places where our wounds and pride
have kept us distant from you
and one another.
Free us from our tombs, O Christ. Amen.

 
LiveLent
 
 
Excerpted from
Live Lent! Year A by Sr. Theresa Rickard, OP, available from RENEW International.

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If we are receptive, Christ will heal our blindness.
 
Jesus, Son of Man,
your light shines into human life
and illuminates the places where we are blind and resistant.
Bathe us in the glow of your healing love
and free us from the darkness
that impedes us from seeing and following you. Amen.
 
LiveLent
 
 
Excerpted from
Live Lent! Year A by Sr. Theresa Rickard, OP, available from RENEW International.

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Jesus is the source of new life for the Samaritan woman and for each of us.
 
Lord Jesus, you stopped because you were thirsty
and yet we were the ones who were refreshed.
You are the living water who brings us new life.
Pour your grace into us,
and let it overflow from our cup to others
who need to be restored in your love. Amen.
 
LiveLent
 
 
Excerpted from
Live Lent! Year A by Sr. Theresa Rickard, OP, available from RENEW International.

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God calls us to listen to and believe in his Son.
 
Lord, you are with us on the mountaintops of life.
In those moments,
we glimpse the grandeur of your presence
and the splendor of your promise.
Let us hold these experiences in our hearts
even as we return to our everyday lives.
Let our sight be pure
and our hearts filled with hope this Lenten season
as we await the promised glory of your resurrection. Amen.
 
LiveLent
 
 
Excerpted from
Live Lent! Year A by Sr. Theresa Rickard, OP, available from RENEW International.

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In the “wilderness times” of our lives, our recourse is to God.
 
Lord Jesus, when I experience wilderness times,
let me never forget God’s unqualified mercy.
As I face times of testing,
give me the grace to choose life.
Guide me through this Lenten season
with a renewed desire to entrust my life into your hands. Amen.
 
LiveLent
 
 
Excerpted from
Live Lent! Year A by Sr. Theresa Rickard, OP, available from RENEW International.

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“Prayer over the People: from The Roman Missal
 
May abundant blessing, O Lord, we pray,
descend upon your people,
who have honored the Death of your Son
in the hope of their resurrection:
may pardon come,
comfort be given,
holy faith increase,
and everlasting redemption be made secure.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
 

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clouds-806637_1920I gave up being pregnant for Lent. It wasn’t my plan. I actually started Lent giving up alcohol, soft cheeses, and sushi. But about halfway through the Lent, I had to give up something else.
 
Things weren’t going well one weekend and I had made an emergency appointment for an ultrasound on Monday morning. As I read my Lenten daily devotional on Sunday night, the prayer was, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:5). I thought that it was a sign that everything would be fine. But it wasn’t. The baby wasn’t meant to be and I lost it.
 
A long, hard, terrible week followed. I have read about people’s “dark nights of the soul,” but I never fully understood what that meant. My faith was rocked. My world was rocked. I know God doesn’t punish us, but I felt punished. It was Lent and all I was reading about was God’s mercy, but God didn’t feel merciful to me. I had definitely hit a low point in my faith, the lowest point I had ever hit. I continued to read my Lenten daily devotional, even though my heart wasn’t really in it.
 
The next week, the scripture reading was, “Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12).
 
This resonated with me. The world can be a very dark place. Watching the news is terrifying. Even more so with my own personal crisis, the world felt very dark and frightening. But without faith and without God, the world stays dark. It’s our faith that gives us the light to navigate in the darkness. It gives us the hope to navigate in a sometimes hopeless world. Without God’s love, mercy, and light, we would be lost.
 
As Lent ends and Easter begins we rejoice in God’s unending love and mercy. Be the light that your friends, neighbors, and the world desperately need.
 

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CrossWhat are we to make of Christ’s words of sheer, seeming hopelessness: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
 
St. Augustine, the fifth century bishop and doctor of the Church, suggests that this soulful prayer of the dying Savior points to our kinship with Christ.
 
“He died for our sins, he who is the only Son, so as not to remain alone,” Augustine said. “He who died alone did not want to be alone. The only Son of God made many children of God. By his blood, he bought for himself brothers; he who had been rejected, adopted them; he who had been sold, bought them back; he who had been gravely offended, filled them with honor; he who had been put to death, gave them life.”
 
Augustine preached that we should take joy in this act of divine mercy—even as we enter this week when we remember Christ’s brutal passion and death.
 
Fr. William Nelson, a priest in Japan, once wrote to a friend:
 

“How we welcome the good news of love poured out! Yes, there is a balm, a fountain, love poured out and bread broken and wine served.”

 
What more could we ask for?
 
Our prayer today:
 

Almighty God,
we praise you that in your infinite mercy
you do not deal with us according to our failings,
but treat us with the tenderness of a father.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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“It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit’; and when he had said this he breathed his last” Luke 23:44-46).
 
During Holy Week, we will hear many words describing the suffering and death of Jesus. In times of suffering, we return to an awareness of our own human frailty. It is a place of humility, recognizing God as Creator and ourselves as finite creatures. We are not in ultimate control. That is God’s domain. So, too, is the reason for suffering and the miracle of the Resurrection.
 
The Passion of our Lord is what connects him with us in our humanity. In suffering, we grow in solidarity with Christ and with those he loves. His suffering is an icon of our own suffering, a window of opportunity that points us to God. God, who is infinite, reaches out in humility to touch us in that pain.
 
As we recall this most precious event within Christian tradition, we are called to enter more deeply into the reality of pain and persecution in our world. We also know the profound promise of a light that will not be overcome by deep shadows.
 
When do you suffer or feel helpless in your own life? Can you see God meeting you in this suffering?
 
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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“But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.
And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She replied, ‘No one, sir.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more’” (John 8:7-11).
 
Some of the scribes and Pharisees were resentful of Jesus’ popularity and wanted to catch him in violation or contradiction to the law. They tried to set him up by bringing him a “woman caught in adultery.” The traditional laws were unequivocal—death by stoning was required. The crowd expected nothing less than a public display of capital punishment. Jesus’ response was to “draw in the sand” and then challenge them to show mercy and forgiveness.
 
Jesus let the woman go. She was offered a second chance, a fresh start. Imagine how she must have felt. Imagine, too, how the members of the crowd may have felt when they realized that they, too, had made mistakes for which others might condemn them.
 
Our sins are all around us. Others see what we do not see. The challenge is to remain mindful of our own vulnerabilities and be aware of our own inclination to sin. We all share humanness with the ones we judge. If we cultivate compassion and forgiveness toward ourselves, are we not less likely to pick up a stone and throw it?
 
Have you ever forgiven someone who hurt you? How did you feel after doing it?

Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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“Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. He said to his father in reply, ‘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. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’ He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found’” (Luke 15:25-32).
 
Jesus was asked by the Pharisees and scribes why he welcomed “sinners” and ate with them. His response was to tell a parable of two sons. Not only a story of forgiveness and reconciliation, this parable captured the essence of God’s relationship with his children. This divine relationship between God and his children is characterized by unconditional, ever-present, unending love.
 
Neither of the two brothers recognized the depth of their father’s love for him. The younger allowed himself to starve before he conceded, out of desperation, for the chance that his father would accept his return. The elder was bitter and filled with resentment.
 
Perhaps the brothers represent two types of people. There are “sinners” who squander their time and resources by separating themselves from true communion with God and often add to their own suffering by thinking they have gone too far to be loved by God. The “too good” people squander their time and resources by working for the wrong reasons and expecting reward based on merit. They believe God should love and reward them, and only them, because of what they have done.
 
When the true depth of love was revealed by the father’s joy at the younger son’s return, it showed that neither the elder nor the younger brother was right.
 
This parable was Jesus’ response to his critics who said that “sinners” did not deserve God’s love. Jesus was challenging them to see that they were like the elder brother who refused to believe that God’s love was deep enough to reach these sinners.
 
Ultimately, we are all invited to be the father in this parable and to give love freely and unconditionally to every child of God.
 
Which character do you most relate to in this parable? Why?

Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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St_Paul_ConversionIn proclaiming the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis invites us to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica or to one of the Holy Doors in cathedrals and designated churches throughout the world.
 
There is another kind of pilgrimage we can make, one that doesn’t involve travel. We can make a pilgrimage of the heart this year.
 
We’ve already started out on the Lenten journey, a kind of pilgrimage whose destination is the glorious resurrection of Christ.
 
During such a pilgrimage, we endeavor to come closer to Christ. It happened to St. Paul during his now-famous journey to Damascus, where he had been planning to continue his persecution of Christians. But Christ caught him up short, and Saul was transformed to Paul—a new man.
 
St. John Chrysostom says this about Paul’s conversion: “The most important thing was that he knew himself to be loved by Christ. Enjoying this love, he considered himself happier than anyone else.”
 
Our entire life, in fact, is a pilgrimage during which we seek to learn the ways of God. This is why the Psalmist says: “When will I come to the end of my pilgrimage and enter the presence of God?”
 
Our prayer today:
 

Merciful Jesus,
we pray to become more and more aware,
like St. Paul,
of how much we are loved by you.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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“Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus said to them in reply, ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!’” (Luke 13:1-5)
 
In this passage, Jesus challenged the audience to repent and start doing the right things for the right reasons. Jesus tried to impress upon them that the deaths he referred to were not in proportion to anyone’s guilt. Those who had died were no better or worse than everyone else. Jesus wanted the audience to learn from the deaths of the others and repent, or they too would perish.
 
This week marks the halfway point in our Lenten journeys. Have we grown in our understanding of how our faith and life intersect? Have we learned from our own lives and the lives of others? Have we participated in the sacrament of reconciliation? Now is the time. Again and again, Jesus impresses on us the importance of repentance and conversion.
 
Disasters and bad things happen now just as they happened in the time of Jesus. We can easily forget that those who died had hopes and dreams and families and friends, just as we do. When we fight for justice, we fight for everyone—including ourselves. God is present in disasters and evil things through the response of those on the outside. God is present in our response to injustice and in our care for others.
 
How have you reached out to those who suffer?

Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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