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Good and gracious God,
on this day of Easter joy, we remember the Lord Jesus
who is risen, alive, and with us.
Help us to live in the light of the Resurrection.
May we become a new creation, free in heart and spirit.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, our risen Savior, Amen!

 
Adapted from The Word on Campus © RENEW International.

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Loving and caring God,
we thank you for Jesus’ love for us that led him to the cross.
Help us to embody his love
in the way we live our lives,
following his path of love, justice, and peace.
Free us from trying to create our own paths,
and help us to proceed on your path,
guided by your light
so that we can experience your joyful peace
even in the midst of the sufferings.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

 
Adapted from The Word on Campus © RENEW International.

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God of life,
you want us to live and be happy.
The words of Jesus, “I am the resurrection and the life”
assure us that you will not let your life in us
die or be wasted.
Help us to cooperate with you
so that we may follow your inspirations
to choose what is right, healthy, and productive
and to reject what is wrong, unhealthy, and destructive.
Help us to always be alive to your life and goodness.
Amen.

 
Adapted from The Word on Campus © RENEW International.

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Note: We can pray with the Sunday readings even if Sunday liturgies have been suspended due to the coronavirus.
Bill Ayres continues to offer his reflections to help our prayer.

A reading from the the Prophet Ezekiel
(Chapter 37:12-14)
 
The Babylonian Exile (597 BC to 538 BC) was a terrible period in the history of the Jewish people. Many thousands died and many more lost hope. Amid this tragedy, the prophet Ezekiel preached hope. Ezekiel lived in exile in Babylon which for thousands of Israelites was a grave. But Ezekiel has a message from God: “O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord…. “I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land…. I have promised, and I will do it.”
 
In times of disaster, there are true prophets, sent from God, and false prophets. Sometimes, it is hard to tell the difference unless we listen to the Spirit dwelling within us and all around us.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 130:1-8)
 
“With the Lord there is mercy and the fullness of redemption.” Mercy is a key word for Pope Francis. He feels he experienced God’s mercy in powerful way when he was a bishop in Argentina in a period of political strife and violence. It changed his life forever. He encourages us to seek God’s mercy throughout our lives.
 
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans
(Chapter 8:8-11)
 
Paul tells the Romans, “You are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you…. If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit dwelling in you.”
 
As you know, Paul was not always a believer in Jesus, but once he “got it” he was all in. He experienced the Holy Spirit in him, and he knew the power it gave him to face adversity, torture, and even death. He believed that his mortal body would be given a new life after death. Jesus died and will live forever, a seeming contradiction but not for Jesus and not for us because God’s Spirit lives in us.
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
(Chapter 11:1-45)
 
Have you noticed that as we come closer to Holy Week the gospel readings have been longer? Let us try to really get into this beautiful story: “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” Yes, Jesus loved everyone, but he was also fully human and had an especially deep friendship with this family. So, you would think that when Jesus heard that Lazarus had died, he would have rushed to comfort the family. No! “So, when he heard that (Lazarus) was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was.” Then finally he said to his companions, “Let us go back to Judea.”
 
Of course, by then Lazarus was not only dead but already entombed. “Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you…. Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will live forever. Do you believe this?’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord….’”
 
So, Jesus went to the tomb and “cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’” John ends the story by telling us, “Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what had been done began to believe in him.” Still, many more did not, just as many today who are Christians doubt that we will also be resurrected. Yet, there are only two choices: believe in resurrection or there is nothingness. I am going with Jesus and the promise of resurrection. How about you?
 
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
 
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. Bill was a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Lord,
we thank you for the inspiration and challenges you have given us.
We need greater insight into ourselves
and the way we look at others around us.
May we enflesh the spirit of Jesus
and reach out to every person
without measuring or judging by external standards.
Help us to reach beyond our blindness,
so that we can rejoice in the new hope
and courage you give us
to accept you as the Lord of our lives
and to live your message day by day.
We ask this through Christ our Lord,
Amen.
 
Adapted from The Word on Campus © RENEW International.

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Note: We can pray with the Sunday readings even if Sunday liturgies have been suspended due to the coronavirus.
Bill Ayres continues to offer his reflections to help our prayer.

A reading from the First book of Samuel
(Chapter 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a)
 
Saul was the king of Israel, but he had fallen out of favor with the Lord. It was time for a new king who would be faithful and just. “The Lord said to Samuel: Fill your horn with oil and be on your way. I am sending you to Jesse of Jerusalem for I have chosen my king from among his sons.” Samuel knew that Jesse had seven sons, but which one would it be? Perhaps Eliab? The Lord said to Samuel, “Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him.” So, Jesse presented six of his sons, and the Lord rejected all of them. But there was a surprise. Jesse had one more son whose name was David. “The Lord said ‘There, anoint him, for this is the one.’” Why would God choose someone so seemingly inappropriate and so young? “Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance, but God looks into the heart.” The heart of David was good and strong.
 
Yes! That is the way God chooses—not by appearances but by looking into our hearts. Let us look into our own hearts especially, now as we live in daily crisis. God is there.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4; 5, 6)
 
“The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I should want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose; beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul.” Whatever you are going through that is painful, stressful, or despairing, God will refresh your soul, even now. Call on him.
 
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians
(Chapter 5:8-14)
 
“Brothers and sisters: You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth…. Therefore, it says: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’’’
 
This theme of darkness and light has been used throughout history, because both elements—darkness and light—are so powerful and relate to our everyday experience. Entering a dark room, having the light go out suddenly, and having to read without good light can be challenging and even scary. Light brings clarity, warmth, and comfort. So, as the author says, “Christ will give you light.”
 
In these times of darkness, ask Christ to give us, give you, light.
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
(Chapter 9:1-41)
 
This is one of the longest gospel stories, and it has one self-evident meaning and one deeper meaning. Jesus meets a man born blind. In this culture at this time, someone is to be blamed for the blindness—usually, the blind person’s parents. That is why the disciples ask Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answers, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.” Jesus then rubs the man’s eyes with clay and tells him to go and wash in the Pool of Siloam. The man does that, and when people ask him how he can now see, he tells them about Jesus healing him. Then the Pharisees ask him, and he tells them the same story. Some of them condemn Jesus: “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the Sabbath.” Others ask the formerly blind man, “What do you have to say about him since he opened your eyes.” He says, “He is a prophet.”
 
The Pharisees, who are supposed to be the truly religious people, condemn Jesus because he healed on the Sabbath and did therefore did not follow the letter of the Law. For Jesus, the Law of Love that came from his Father was the true Law. The Pharisees remain in darkness, but the man has come into the light and can see because of his faith in Jesus.
 
Do you ever feel a sense of darkness in your life or in your very soul? It can come from within for any number of reasons: illness, disappointment, the loss of mental or physical abilities, or a loss of faith. It can also originate from outside events, threats, or broken relationships—or a combination of such things. It may even be just one thing in the midst of an otherwise happy life. Where can you find the light in the midst of darkness? Is there an action you can take? Can you ask for someone’s help? The one source of healing and light that is always there is your Spirit, your lifelong partner who lives within you. Keep saying hello to the Holy Spirit
 
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
 
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. Bill was a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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God of life, and giver of all that is good,
give us an unquenchable thirst for the things that matter;
for faith and for meaning in our lives;
for hope in a better world filled with your justice and peace;
for a spirit of committed love that knows how to share itself.
Generously give us all these through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

 
Adapted from The Word on Campus © RENEW International.

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A reading from the Book of Exodus
(Chapter 12:1-4a)
 
The Israelites have been wandering in the dessert for years since their escape from Egypt; they are hungry and, more importantly, thirsty. The complain to Moses:“Why did you ever make us leave Egypt? Was it just to have us die of thirst with our children and our livestock?” In Egypt, they led a horrible existence of slavery and violence; yet, that seems better compared to their present suffering. “So, Moses cried out to the Lord, ‘What shall I do with this people?’” The Lord instructs Moses to go to the rock of Horeb: “Strike the rock, and the water will flow from it for the people to drink.”
 
So goes the continuing story of God’s relationship with the Israelites. With each crisis they face, their faith is tested and often beyond their ability to be faithful. No matter! God is always with them.
 
Thousands of years later, we continue face our own crises on personal and societal levels. A family member dies painfully, tragically, or unexpectedly. Sickness strikes. A relationship shatters. Addiction takes over a family. And then there are the crises of our society: hunger, poverty, injustice, racism, sexism, and now a creeping virus. Our relationship with God is tested in all these crises and many more.
 
The key to our relationship with God and our spiritual, emotional, and physical health is what God has said to us in the Hebrew Scriptures and what Jesus said in the Gospels: “I am with you always.”
 
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 95: 1-2, 6-7, 8-9)
 
“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” Do you know someone who has a hardened heart, someone who can no longer hear God’s voice? Maybe your prayer for that person will reach his or her. It may take a while, maybe a long while, but do not give up. “I am with you.”
 
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans
(Chapter 5:1-2, 5-8)
 
Paul tells his brothers and sisters in Rome, “Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope for the glory of God. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
 
Let’s read that last line again: “The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” It is not as though the love of God is something outside of us. No, it is within us, because the very Spirit of God is in us. Do you believe that God’s Spirit is alive in you?
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
(Chapter 4:5-42)
 
This is the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well, and it links with our first reading about water flowing from a rock through the power of God.
 
“Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well…. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her ‘Give me a drink.’” The Samaritan woman then asks, “‘How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman for a drink? For Jews have nothing to do with Samaritans….’ Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you ‘Give me a drink’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’”
 
The woman is skeptical and asks him, “Are you greater than our father Jacob who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I will give will never thirst; the water I will give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
 
This woman has had a hard life, with five different husbands, but Jesus does not condemn her. She believes in him and tells everyone in town about him. Jesus winds up staying there two days, and, “Many more began to believe in him because of his word.”
 
The fact that Jesus is speaking in public to a woman who was not his wife—and speaking to a Samaritan at that—shocked his disciples at first, but Jesus does not care. He wants to reach out to someone whose neighbors may see her as a great sinner, so he says, “the Father seeks such people to worship him.” She did, and so did the other Samaritans who were considered by Jewish people to be heretics. We can declare with them: “We know that this is truly the savior of the world.”
 
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
 
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for over 40 years. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Loving God,
open our eyes to our need to hear
that we are your beloved daughters and sons.
May we become conscious that you are the God who cares for us,
the God interested in our well-being,
and that you walk with us always
giving us the inspiration to make the right decisions in our lives.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
Amen.

 
Adapted from The Word on Campus © RENEW International.

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A reading from the Book of Genesis
(Chapter 12:1-4a)
 
“The Lord said to Abram: ‘Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse those that curse you. All the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you.’ Abram went as the Lord directed him.”
 
Abram’s conversation with God marks the beginning of the Jewish people. God tells Abram, whom he soon will call Abraham, “I will make of you a great nation.” These words often have often been a comfort and source of hope to the Jewish people during their historic suffering and their frequent dispersion.
 
The same is true for us today amid turmoil throughout the world and in our own country and perhaps a worldwide health crisis. Let us ask in hope for God’s blessing for our country and our world. And let us ask for that blessing in the name of our Brother and Savior, Jesus Christ.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22)
 
“Lord, let your mercy be upon us, as we place our trust in you…. May your kindness, O Lord, be upon us who have put our hope in you.” Let us remember that our hope, in God, is ever present and eternal. Do you believe that?
 
A reading from the second letter of Saint Paul to Timothy
(Chapter 1:8b-10)
 
Paul is writing to his disciple Timothy at a time of persecution and death for the early Christians, and Paul wants to encourage them. “Beloved: Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.” How does your strength come from God? Do you ask for strength? How do you respond when it seems that no strength comes?
 
Paul write that God “saved us and called us to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began, but now made manifest through the appearance of our savior Christ Jesus who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” The word “gospel” means good news, and the good news, as we know it, is that Christ Jesus destroyed the finality of death “and brought life and immortality.”
 
Do you believe the amazing promise that death is not the end, that we will live another life, that we are immortal? That is the teaching of Jesus, and it has been the teaching of the Church for more than two thousand years. It is the gospel, the good news, of our salvation.
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew
(Chapter 17:1-9)
 
“Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.”
The Book of Genesis tells of God making himself known to Moses. Matthew, who is writing for a mostly Jewish audience, wants his readers to know that Jesus too had such an experience and that Moses himself and Elijah were there. If Matthew’s readers were good Jews, they believed in God’s manifestations to Moses. So, now too, they should believe in the apparition that Jesus and the three apostles experienced.
 
Of course, Peter is overwhelmed, especially when he hears a voice saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased, listen to him.” Peter does not want to come down from the mountain. He is ready to build three tents, one for Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah. “But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Rise, and do not be afraid.’’’
 
Have you ever had moments when you were, in a sense, “on the mountain with Jesus”? Maybe it was at Mass or in prayer or at a time of healing with someone you were present with in a deep way. Or perhaps it was simply being in nature or anywhere that you felt the presence of Jesus. Did you feel as Peter did and not want to “come down from the mountain”? These special moments with Jesus or with the Spirit or with our Father occur to help us deal with our everyday challenges, hurts, disappointments, failures. The key is being open to the mystery of God being with you.
 
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
 
Image courtesy of freebibleimages.org.
 
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Lord, we see that your Son, Jesus, was fully human
and was tempted like any of us.
His example of saying no to evil and making the right choices
is a challenge to us to do the same.
Give us the courage to choose
what is right, healthy, and helpful
and to avoid what is unhealthy and destructive.
Help us thus to be shining examples
of goodness and kindness to others.
Amen.

 
Adapted from The Word on Campus © RENEW International.

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A reading from the Book of Genesis
(Chapter 2:7-9, 3:1-7)
 
No one knows exactly when the Book of Genesis was written, but biblical scholars calculate that it was sometime after the Jewish people came back from the Babylonian Exile in the sixth century B.C. and people questioned why they were away so long and why God had allowed them to experience such misery.
 
This story of Adam and Eve is obviously an allegory, but it provides answers to two of life’s most important questions. Why are we not immortal; why do we all have to die? And, is there not some super wisdom that can protect us from making wrong decisions that might lead to death or ruin?
 
The authors answer these questions by telling a two-part story. First, “The Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being.” The authors wanted their listeners or readers to know that God is the creator of all that exists, and that everything God has created is good. It was important to begin the story in a positive vein for a people who had just been through the hell of the Babylonian Exile and for people to follow who might experience similar horrors.
 
The story then switches to the woman, and it turns dark. “The serpent asked the woman, ‘Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?’” The woman answers, “It is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat or even touch it, lest you die’ …. But the serpent said to the woman: ‘You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is evil.” Of course, we know that the woman gives in to the serpent, eats some fruit, and then gives some to the man, Adam.
 
The authors answer both those seminal questions. We do not have immortality, because the woman and man disobeyed God, and there is no super wisdom to prevent us from wrong decisions and sin. It is gone because of the bad decision made by the first human beings.
 
Because of the way this story is constructed, it has been interpreted to mean that woman is to blame for evil in the world. Nonsense! The message of this creation story is not that women are weaker or less capable than men. Perhaps we’re still learning that, step by painful step.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 17)
 
“Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.” Let us ask for God’s forgiveness for any time we may have discriminated against another person, at any time, for any reason.
 
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans
(Chapter 5:12-19)
 
Here, Paul traces the root of sin to Adam and forgiveness of sin to Jesus Christ. “But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin after the pattern of the trespass of Adam…. But the gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one, the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many.” Notice the word “gift.” It is one of the most important words in our faith. Our life itself is a gift. Our faith is a gift. God’s unconditional love is a gift. We did not earn any of it.
 
For centuries, people have asked the question, “How can I get to heaven?” The answer is that we can’t do it ourselves. We need to accept the gift of life, of God’s unconditional love, and the presence of the Holy Spirit, our life partner, within our souls. It is all gift from our merciful Father who never stops loving us. Please share the gift with those you love and especially those you may find hard to love.
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew
(Chapter 4:1-11)
 
This is an amazing story of one man’s battle with evil temptations. Notice who leads him and stays with him throughout. “At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.” Jesus fasts forty days and forty nights, and he is hungry and vulnerable. “The tempter approached and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” That was the first temptation, physical hunger. Most of us have not experienced that kind of extreme hunger but think of the millions of our brothers and sisters all over the world who live with hunger every day. Jesus responds, “One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” Then the devil ups the ante to life itself and tells Jesus that he should throw himself down from the parapet of the temple. Then, finally, he shows Jesus “All the kingdoms of this world in their magnificence, and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you.’ … Jesus said to him, ‘Go away Satan.’”
 
That covers all the temptations that you and I might experience—all sorts of hungers, lack of trust in God, and desire for power. Jesus faced them all, and he is with us in all of our temptations. We live in the mystery of God’s mercy and our life partner, the Holy Spirit, lives within us.
 
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
 
Image courtesy of freebibleimages.org.
 
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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As we begin this important journey of faith, Lord
we pray for your presence and wisdom.
Help us to recognize that you are the Lord of our life and destiny.
Inspire us to make life-giving choices
and avoid voices contrary to your message.
Give us the wisdom to discern the truth
in the midst of temptations,
and the strength to act on this truth.
Amen.

 
Adapted from The Word on Campus © RENEW International.

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On each Monday in February, we will share some thoughts from Sr. Terry
about preparing for and really experiencing Lent,
which begins with Ash Wednesday on February 26.

 
Last week, we reviewed things to do—positive actions to take to make the most of your Lenten journey. And now, things not to do:
 
Don’t give up. Instead of giving up something for Lent, try doing something that will bring you closer to God. Perhaps attend Mass during the week, spend time reflecting on the daily or Sunday readings by yourself and with others by using this book, experience the beauty of God’s creation by taking walks, make donations to your favorite charities, volunteer at the local food bank, light candles and say prayers for the people you know who are struggling. If you still decide to give something up, do it for someone else. For example, if you give up wine for Lent, each time you decline to take wine, pray for someone who struggles with an addiction to alcohol.
 
Don’t sweat it. Whatever it is you commit to do this Lent, the point isn’t to do it perfectly. Give it your best, but if you slip up, accept that as a reminder that you are not perfect. Only God is perfect. Say a prayer, and start again.
 
Don’t starve yourself. Lent isn’t about going on a diet or losing weight—it’s about the conversion of hearts. Eat healthy, get some exercise, but don’t succumb to our culture’s obsession with physical appearances. Again, if you want to give up sweets, do it while praying for someone who is seriously overweight.
 
Don’t make it more difficult than it is. The three pillars of Lent are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Find simple ways to pray, fast, and give to those who live in poverty.
 
Don’t hold back. Lent will present you with many opportunities to convert your heart and your life, to heal broken relationships, and to grow closer to God. When you find yourself presented with such an opportunity, embrace it.
 
So this Lent don’t give up, don’t sweat it, don’t starve yourself, don’t make it more difficult than it is, and, most especially, don’t hold back! Live Lent! so you can live a more authentic faith long after these 40 days have passed.
 

Excerpt from the Introduction to Live Lent! Year A
by Sr. Theresa Rickard, OP, President of RENEW International,
© 2019 RENEW International
.

 
Live Lent! contains daily meditations and weekly small-group faith-sharing sessions beginning on Ash Wednesday. It includes prayers, reflections on Old and New Testament readings, questions with journaling space, and action prompts to help us Live Lent! in our daily lives. Learn more and order Live Lent! at www.renewintl.org/livelent. Use Promo Code TRLENT20 to save 25% on your order of Live Lent! or any of RENEW’s Lenten resources.
 
Please share this with anyone who might be interested in making the most of this season of preparation, renewal, and transformation. Don’t just observe Lent—live it!
 
Sr. Terry Rickard is a Dominican Sister of Blauvelt, NY and President of RENEW International.

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On each Monday in February, we will share some thoughts from Sr. Terry
about preparing for and really experiencing Lent,
which begins with Ash Wednesday on February 26.

 
For me, the Lenten season has always been a time to refocus on God and get my life in right order. I want to Live Lent! so I can live faith with greater integrity and in deeper communion with God and my neighbor. As a child I thought Lent was about giving up things like candy and fighting with my sister, Mary. I have come to realize that it is not so much about giving up things but about seizing the opportunity to be all that God has called me to be—a holy, healthy, and loving person—a disciple of Jesus Christ committed to transforming my faith into real-life action.
 
So, let me suggest not ways to fast but things to do and things not to do this Lent.
 
First, things to do:
 
Consciously surrender to God. Whenever we say the Lord’s Prayer we ask that God’s will be done on earth. And Lent reminds us that leading a Christian life means setting aside our will—our desires and wishes and priorities—and asking God to help us behave only according to God’s will.
 
Let go of old self-images. Imitating Jesus, who died on the cross, is to empty ourselves of ego and see ourselves as who we really are— creatures totally dependent on our Creator, but also living reflections of God’s love and compassion. We are flawed and fabulous, and we need to let go of denigrating ourselves and old tapes that tell us that we are not good enough or smart enough or attractive enough. Lent is a time to see ourselves clearly—as Father Richard Rohr’s says, to find our true selves, our God selves, our Christ selves.
 
Focus on engendering life from within. No matter what we own or what we lack in the way of material possessions or wealth, our greatest gifts to each other, to the world at large, will always come from within us. Be conscious of the Holy Spirit encouraging your powers of love, compassion, and justice; realize the potential in these gifts; find ways to use these gifts to bless the lives of others in large ways and small.
 
Ask for the grace of transformation. Pray each day that you will emerge from this Lenten experience as a new person. Leave the details of your renewal up to God, and thank God for this grace.
 

Excerpt from the Introduction to Live Lent! Year A
by Sr. Theresa Rickard, OP, President of RENEW International,
© 2019 RENEW International
.

 
Live Lent! contains daily meditations and weekly small-group faith-sharing sessions beginning on Ash Wednesday. It includes prayers, reflections on Old and New Testament readings, questions with journaling space, and action prompts to help us Live Lent! in our daily lives. Learn more and order Live Lent! at www.renewintl.org/livelent. Use Promo Code TRLENT20 to save 25% on your order of Live Lent! or any of RENEW’s Lenten resources.
 
Please share this with anyone who might be interested in making the most of this season of preparation, renewal, and transformation. Don’t just observe Lent—live it!
 
Sr. Terry Rickard is a Dominican Sister of Blauvelt, NY and President of RENEW International.

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