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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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“On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, ‘They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.’ So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead” (Luke 24:1-12).
 
Seeing the stone removed from the tomb, Mary was fearful and upset that someone had taken Jesus’ body. She ran for help to the other disciples, who loved Jesus as she did. In the end, they really couldn’t offer any help to her. They “saw and believed” but “did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.”
 
Faith in the resurrected Christ, the faith that we celebrate on Easter – the greatest feast of our Church year – is not something we can easily grasp. We can’t “master” it and move on with our lives. Even the disciples, who traveled with Jesus, experienced a lack of understanding and uncertainty.
 
We can easily find ourselves in similar situations in which we experience doubt or questioning. These situations are the keys for us to develop our relationship with God, who is infinite yet close at hand; who is divine yet sends his Son to assume our humanity; who is the source of wisdom yet respectful of free will.
 
No matter what we think we know about God, there is always more to know, to experience, and to be surprised by. It is in these times of believing, yet not fully understanding, that we come to know God even more.
 
When have you experienced fear, confusion, or a lack of conviction in life? How were you able to find God in that situation?
 http://blog.renewintl.org/wp-admin/edit.php
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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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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