Branching-Out

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: First Sunday of Lent

Posted by Bill Ayres on Feb 21, 2021 10:12:16 AM

A reading from the book of Genesis

(Chapter 9:8-15)

The term covenant is essential to understanding God’s relationship with Israel. It means a promise made by God to the people. This is the first covenant between God and his people—a promise to spare future generations from a devastating flood like the one that occurred in Noah’s time. This is all pre-history. There is no historical record, but it is a powerful story in which God makes a broad all-inclusive promise that includes protection of “every living creature.” A whole series of promises follow to Abraham, Moses, David, and Isaiah, each of which calls on the people to repent and be faithful to their promise. This leads to the New Covenant in Jesus Christ which you and I live today.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 24)

“Your ways O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.” If we keep our promise, our covenant with God we will live in truth and love. Of course none of us does that perfectly, but part of God’s promise to us is forgiveness, beyond any we can imagine.

Read More

Topics: Lent, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, first sunday of Lent, New Covenant

Thinking about Threes

Posted by Sharon Krause on Feb 19, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Have you ever thought about how many things are in groups of three? In children’s stories, for example, there are three bears, three little mittenless kittens, three blind mice, and “sugar and spice and everything nice” which are three ingredients of little girls. We also have expressions that focus on triplets, as in the Declaration of Independence: “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” We might “eat, drink, and be merry” or fall for something “hook, line, and sinker,” “morning, noon and night.” Three seems to be satisfying, almost rhythmical in nature.

If we think about the Blessed Trinity, we know there are three Persons. There are also the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. That reminds me that I have a little book of everyday prayers that contains Acts of Faith, Hope, and Love. Hmm! Maybe I should look them up and use those prayers at the start of each day during Lent? How about you?

And how about instances of threes in the gospel stories? In Chapter 2 of Matthew’s Gospel, we read of the visit of the magi who brought the infant Jesus three gifts. In Chapter 4 of the same Gospel, we read of the devil tempting Jesus three times in the wilderness. In Chapter 22, we read about the greatest commandment that tells us to love God above all, and then our neighbor as ourselves: God, our neighbor, and ourselves.

Read More

Topics: Lent, Lenten season, prayer life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

Moonstruck

Posted by Charles Paolino on Feb 17, 2021 6:00:00 AM

So, like a lot of other people, we have to watch Moonstruck every six months or so.

Someone asked me, how can you watch the same movie over and over again? I said, because every time I watch it, I notice things that I didn’t see before. This time, for instance, I noticed that, in that movie, there are several messages for Ash Wednesday and Lent.

One of those messages is in a remark that Rose Castorini makes to her husband:

“Cosmo … I just want you to know that, no matter what you do, you’re going to die, just like everybody else.”

To which he replies, “Thank you, Rose.”

And, of course, that’s what the ashes remind us of today. The liturgy provides two formulas for the minister to use when applying the ashes. The one used most often these days is, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel,” but the old classic that is still used in some places confirms Rose Castorini’s statement: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” — you’re going to die, just like everybody else.

Read More

Topics: Ash Wednesday, Lent, God's love, prayer life, RENEW International, repentance, spirituality

Lenten Snowman

Posted by Sharon Krause on Feb 16, 2021 6:00:00 AM

I have seen plenty of snow over the years here in Connecticut, including the past couple of weeks. After the recent accumulations, several snowmen have appeared, and they got me to thinking about what a Lenten snowman might be like.

The bottom section of such a snowman would have to be a good foundation so that it could hold up the rest of the body. During Lent, we are reminded in the readings at liturgies of many of the truths that are the foundation of our gift of faith concerning the Kingdom of God. For example, in St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians (6:2) we read about what God has said:

“‘At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.’  See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!”

 So God’s gift of salvation through Jesus is our firm foundation. We will also be reading about Christ proclaiming Peter as the rock, the foundation, on which Jesus is building his Church (Matthew 16). And in Chapter 6 of Matthew’s Gospel, we receive a wonderful foundational prayer—Lord’s Prayer.

Read More

Topics: Lent, God's love, gratitude, prayer life, RENEW International, repentance, spirituality

Slow to Fast

Posted by Sharon Krause on Feb 15, 2021 6:00:00 AM

With Lent starting in the middle of February, my thoughts turn to memories of other Lenten seasons. I recall when, as a middle-schooler, I gave up, or fasted from, candy and other sweets. However, although I refrained from eating candy, I did buy some sugary cough drops to snack oneven though I did not have a cough or sore throat. Substitution was the name of that game! It was another example of the letter versus the spirit of the prohibition. I would proudly proclaim that I gave up candy for Lent.

Fasting can include abstaining from an activity as well as from a food group. There are spiritual benefits to derive from depriving oneself of certain pleasures. It is supposed to turn our minds away from worldly pleasures or freedoms so as to focus on the greater, spiritual concerns and endeavors.

 This past year, the pandemic has forced me to stop doing many activities I enjoy. It has been almost as if I were fasting from shopping, eating out, and getting together socially with friends and relatives. I certainly did not choose to fast from these activities as a spiritual practice. At first, I did not see a benefitother than health safetyfrom staying home so much. If nothing else, I have learned that there is a big difference between what I perceive as burden and as opportunity,

Read More

Topics: Lent, Lenten season, fasting, prayer life, priorities, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

Subscribe Here!

Recent Posts

Posts by Tag

See all