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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

020918 lent calendar

During Lent, we are asked to devote ourselves to seeking the Lord in prayer and reading Scripture, to service by giving alms, and to sacrifice self-control through fasting. Many know of the tradition of abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent, but we are also called to practice self-discipline and fast in other ways throughout the season. Contemplate the meaning and origins of the Lenten fasting tradition in this reflection.

Through these reflections and resources, you will find a variety of suggestions and resources to help you "raise up," "sacrifice," and "offer" during this Lent and to embrace your baptismal commitment.

— USCCB

020918 lent calendar

During Lent, we are asked to devote ourselves to seeking the Lord in prayer and reading Scripture, to service by giving alms, and to sacrifice self-control through fasting. Many know of the tradition of abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent, but we are also called to practice self-discipline and fast in other ways throughout the season. Contemplate the meaning and origins of the Lenten fasting tradition in this reflection.

Through these reflections and resources, you will find a variety of suggestions and resources to help you "raise up," "sacrifice," and "offer" during this Lent and to embrace your baptismal commitment.

— USCCB

Lent resources

Lent resources

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

020918 ash weds 50Lectio Divina for Ash Wednesday

 

 

Read

lent-ash-wednesdayTake inspiration for your Lenten journey from prayer and the reading of Scripture, from fasting and from giving alms. The fasting that we all do together on Fridays is but a sign of the daily Lenten discipline of individuals and households: fasting for certain periods of time, fasting from certain foods, but also fasting from other things and activities. Likewise, the giving of alms is an effort to share this world equally—not only through the distribution of money, but through the sharing of our time and talents. The key to fruitful observance of these practices is to recognize their link to baptismal renewal. We are called not just to abstain from sin during Lent, but to true conversion of our hearts and minds as followers of Christ. We recall those waters in which we were baptized into Christ's death, died to sin and evil, and began new life in Christ. Start Lent off by watching this video, and get into the penitential spirit of the Lenten season.

Reflect

"By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread, Until you return to the ground, from which you were taken; For you are dust, and to dust you shall return." (Gn 3:19)

Pray

"Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever." (Collect for Ash Wednesday)

Act

Have you picked up your Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl for Lent this year? Make a commitment to dropping in spare change every day. 
Another way to give alms today is by giving to the National Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe.

Feb. 15

Feb. 15

Read

How yesterday (February 14) came to be celebrated as a feast for lovers and connected to two different possible St. Valentines is a bit of a mystery. 

Reflect

Reflect today on Jesus's commandment to his disciples in today's Gospel: "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?" (Lk 9:23-25, Lectionary).

Pray

Pray today that you may live the Gospel and be a faithful disciple of Jesus.

Act

Part of being a disciple of Jesus is taking up the call to live as a missionary disciple, spreading the Word of God in our communities. The US bishops have an easy list of six ways to evangelize during Lent

Feb. 16

Feb. 16

Read

Today we are reminded of the practice of fasting on Fridays during Lent. Read this reflection on why we fast on Fridays in the weeks leading up to Easter Sunday. 

Reflect

Pope Francis said of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, "All three exclude the need for appearances: what counts is not appearances; the value of life does not depend on the approval of others or on success, but on what we have inside us."

— Ash Wednesday Homily, 2014

Pray

"Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation:

you make us hunger and thirst for holiness.

Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation:

you call us to true fasting:

to set free the oppressed,

to share our bread with the hungry,

to shelter the homeless and to clothe the naked."

— Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers, 96

Act

Many often choose something to give up during all of Lent—not just on Fridays—as a way of fasting. Practice self-discipline and choose something to refrain from until Easter. Challenge yourself!

Feb. 17

Feb. 17

Read

Take a couple minutes to read about the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order, whom we celebrate today.

Reflect

"God calls. We respond. . . . The Risen Lord calls everyone to labor in his vineyard, that is, in a world that must be transformed in view of the final coming of the Reign of God; and the Holy Spirit empowers all with the various gifts and ministries for the building up of the Body of Christ."

Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord, USCCB, 2005

Pray

The following prayer is one of the many USCCB prayers for vocations. Pray today for lay ministers in your community.

Loving and Generous God,
it is You who call us by name
and ask us to follow You.
Help us to grow in the Love
and service of our Church
as we experience it today.Give us the energy and courage
of Your Spirit
to shape its futureGrant us faith-filled leaders
who will embrace Christ's mission
of love and justice.Bless the Church of [N.]

by raising up dedicated and generous leaders
from our families and friends
who will serve Your people as Sisters,
Priests, Brothers, Deacons and Lay Ministers.Inspire us to know You better
and open our hearts
to hear Your call.We ask this through our Lord.

Act

One of the seven founders of the Servite Order we read about today chose not to be ordained and served as a lay minister. Do you serve your church community? Brainstorm a list of ways you can be more involved.

Feb. 18

Feb. 18

020818 wk1Lectio Divina for first week of Lent

 

 

Read

In today's first reading, we hear about God's covenant with Noah, and in the Gospel, we hear about Jesus's journey into the desert.  Both the universal flood in the story of Noah and Jesus's journey into the desert lasted 40 days. These are just two examples of the biblical roots that explain why Lent lasts for 40 days. Other references to 40 days in Scripture include:

  • the number of days spent by Israel in the desert
  • the number of days spent by Moses on Mount Sinai
  • the number of days spent by the prophet Elijah in the desert before going to encounter God on Mount Herob
  • the number of days of penance of the inhabitants of Nineveh
      

Reflect

Reflect on today's Gospel.

Pray

Lord of Lent, Lord of Easter,

As you went into the desert

So do I follow

Putting aside that which distracts me

Grabs at me

Falsely claims me.

To search inside

To confront myself

My best, my worst

My good works and my sins.

And each time, I find you there

To call to me again

With words of challenge and words of mercy.

And as I fall to my knees, in prayer, in fasting

In sacrifice and penitence

Somehow, you have it in yourself to reach out and gently lift me

To renew me

To claim me as nothing of this world can claim me.

Meet me in the desert, Lord. Claim me anew.

Amen.

Lenten Rice Bowl Prayer from Catholic Relief Services

Act

Since 1884, proceeds from the Black and Indian Missions Collection are distributed as grants to dioceses supporting and strengthening evangelization programs, which would otherwise be in danger of disappearing among the Black, American Indian, Eskimo, and Aleut communities of the United States. Make a donation today.

Feb. 19

Feb. 19

Read

The season of Lent has only just begun. While it may feel overwhelming to try to check off everything on your spiritual bucket list, the US bishops have a list of 10 things to remember this Lent. Item number 6: "Don't do too much." 

Reflect

Giving of ourselves in the midst of our suffering and self-denial brings us closer to loving like Christ, who suffered and poured himself out unconditionally on cross for all of us. Lent is a journey through the desert to the foot of the cross on Good Friday, as we seek him out, ask his help, join in his suffering, and learn to love like him.

Pray

Today is Presidents' Day in the United States. Let's take time to pray for our civic leaders.

Prayer for Civic Leaders

God our Father, 
You guide everything in wisdom and love.
Accept the prayers we offer for our nation.
In your goodness,
watch over those in authority
so that people everywhere
may enjoy freedom, security and peace.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.
Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers, 371

Act

How will you respond to the list of "10 Things to Remember for Lent"? Which one is the most important for you to remember?

Feb. 20

Feb. 20

Read

Today we read about Blessed Francisco and Blessed Jacinta Marto, two of the three Fatima visionaries.

Reflect

"No other creature ever basked in the light of God's face as did Mary; she in turn gave a human face to the Son of the eternal Father. Now we can contemplate her in the succession of joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious moments of her life, which we revisit in our recitation of the rosary. With Christ and Mary, we abide in God."

— Pope Francis, Blessing of the Candles, Chapel of Apparitions, Fatima, May 12, 2017

Pray

Reflect on the Five Sorrowful Mysteries as you pray the Rosary today.

Act

As part of your prayer of the Rosary today, say this prayer in between each decade. It was requested by the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima. "O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of your mercy."

Feb. 21

Feb. 21

Read

Today we read about St. Peter Damien, whose feast day is today.

Reflect

"In an age marked by forms of particularism and uncertainties because it was bereft of a unifying principle, Peter Damien, aware of his own limitations—he liked to define himself as peccator monachus—passed on to his contemporaries the knowledge that only through a constant harmonious tension between the two fundamental poles of life—solitude and communion—can an effective Christian witness develop. Does not this teaching also apply to our times?"

— Pope Benedict XVI, Letter, February 2007

Pray

In honor of St. Peter Damien, a Doctor of the Church, say a prayer for the New Evangelization.

Act

St. Peter Damien once wrote to a bishop, "let your lips continually ruminate something from the scriptures." Think about how you spread the truth of the Gospel through your words and deeds.  In what way do you think the Lord would ask you to live differently?

Feb. 22

Feb. 22

Read

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle.

Reflect

Jesus told Peter, "I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers." (Lk 22:32)

Pray

In honor of St. Peter, our first pope, say a prayer for priests today.

Act

"So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you." (1 Pt 5:6-7)

Feb. 23

Feb. 23

Read

Today we remember St. Polycarp, a bishop and martyr.

Reflect

"And today, in many parts of the world, there are many, many—more than in the first centuries—so many martyrs, who give up their lives for Christ, who are brought to death because they do not deny Jesus Christ. This is our Church. Today we have more martyrs than in the first centuries! However, there is also daily martyrdom, which may not entail death but is still a 'loss of life' for Christ, by doing one's duty with love, according to the logic of Jesus, the logic of gift, of sacrifice. Let us think: how many dads and moms every day put their faith into practice by offering up their own lives in a concrete way for the good of the family! Think about this! How many priests, brothers and sisters carry out their service generously for the Kingdom of God! How many young people renounce their own interests in order to dedicate themselves to children, the disabled, the elderly . . . They are martyrs too! Daily martyrs, martyrs of everyday life!"

— Pope Francis, Angelus, June 23, 2013

Pray

In honor of St. Polycarp, a bishop and martyr, we pray for all those persecuted because of their faith today:

O God of all the nations, the One God who is and was and always will be, in your providence you willed that your Church be united to the suffering of your Son. Look with mercy on your servants who are persecuted for their faith in you. Grant them perseverance and courage to be worthy imitators of Christ. Bring your wisdom upon leaders of nations to work for peace among all peoples. May your Spirit open conversion for those who contradict your will, that we may live in harmony. Give us the grace to be united in truth and freedom, and to always seek your will in our lives. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us.

—Prayer composed by Archbishop William E. Lori, Baltimore

Act

In the reflection today, Pope Francis talks about what it means to be a daily martyr. Make a list of the ways you serve your family, spouse, children, parents, coworkers, neighbors, etc., and see if you might be able to add more things to that list in the coming days. Are there new, small ways of loving them that you could offer?

Feb. 24

Feb. 24

Read

The foundational call of Christians to charity is a frequent theme of the Gospels.  During Lent, we are asked to focus more intently on "almsgiving," which means donating money or goods to the poor and performing other acts of charity.  As one of the three pillars of Lenten practice, almsgiving is "a witness to fraternal charity" and "a work of justice pleasing to God" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2462).

Reflect

"The more we strive to secure a common good corresponding to the real needs of our neighbors, the more effectively we love them. Every Christian is called to practice this charity, in a manner corresponding to his vocation."  (Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, no. 7)

Pray

Prayer for Charity in Truth

Father, your truth is made known in your Word. Guide us to seek the truth of the human person. Teach us the way to love because you are Love. Jesus, you embody Love and Truth. Help us to recognize your face in the poor. Enable us to live out our vocation to bring love and justice to your people. Holy Spirit, you inspire us to transform our world. Empower us to seek the common good for all persons. Give us a spirit of solidarity and make us one human family. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Prayer based on Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, USCCB, 2009)

Act

Are you putting change into a Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl this Lent? Consider making small sacrifices each day so you might donate more to the poor this Lenten season.

Feb. 25

Feb. 25

020818 wk2  Lectio Divina for second week of Lent

 

 

Read

Read today's readings before going to Mass today. Do you get daily readings sent to your inbox?

Reflect

Reflect on today's Gospel with the ancient art of lectio divina.

Pray

Reflecting on Abraham's willingness to do what God commanded in the first reading, pray this prayer about seeking God's will in your own life.

Act

Today is the second Sunday of Lent. Do a check-in with yourself on the Lenten promises you made a couple of weeks ago. How are you doing? Say a prayer offering your sacrifices to the Lord.

Feb. 26

Feb. 26

Read

Last week, we heard in Mass about the beginning of Jesus's public life in ministry–his journey into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights to fast and be tempted by the Devil. Since the beginning of Lent, we have been reminded of three spiritual pillars of the season: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Through fasting, we recognize our sinful ways; through prayer, we know God better; and through almsgiving, we respond to our brothers and sisters.

Reflect

Why are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving important in our busy, secular lives?

Pray

Lent is essentially an act of prayer spread out over 40 days. As we pray, we go on a journey, one that hopefully brings us closer to Christ and leaves us changed by the encounter with him. Spend a few extra minutes in prayer today.

Act

If you haven't already done so, make a list of ways in which you plan to pray more, fast, and give alms this Lenten season. There are still a number of weeks until Easter—how can you deepen your Lenten commitment?

Consider reading one of the Psalms on Saturdays, challenge yourself to fast from speaking any negative or critical word on Fridays, or do an act of generosity on Mondays.

Feb. 27

Feb. 27

Read

The Servant Songs, Day One:

Within the Book of the Prophet Isaiah we encounter four poetic sections known as the Songs of the Suffering Servant. The specific identity of this Servant of the Lord remains the topic of scholarly debate. Perhaps it refers to the prophet Isaiah himself, perhaps the entire nation of Israel, or possibly the promised Messiah. Christian faith sees these prophetic utterances fulfilled in the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Lord.

Because of the Christian identification of the Suffering Servant with Jesus, the four Servant Songs become a way of encountering the Lord during this Lenten Season. Not only do they give us a sense of the commitment and endurance that characterized his messianic ministry, but they become a way of touching the bruised face of the Messiah, of hearing the resolute determination that sustained him in the midst of trial, and of rejoicing with him in God's ultimate vindication of his calling and service.

The first song introduces God's Servant who will establish justice upon the earth.

Reflect

Today we reflect on the first of the four Servant Songs.

Pray

Take time with the first Servant Song. Read Isaiah 42:1-4.

Act

In this passage, the prophet Isaiah presages a servant who pleases God. This servant shows meekness and is one who will never extinguish even the smallest, faintest light of faith. Likewise, the faith of this servant will never grow dim; distant nations will await his teaching and look for the justice that he brings.

Listen again to the Scriptures through a recording of the first Servant Song to reinforce the passages.

Feb. 28

Feb. 28

Read

The Servant Songs, Day Two:

(Within the Book of the Prophet Isaiah we encounter four poetic sections known as the Songs of the Suffering Servant. The specific identity of this Servant of the Lord remains the topic of scholarly debate. Perhaps it refers to the prophet Isaiah himself, perhaps the entire nation of Israel, or possibly the promised Messiah. Christian faith sees these prophetic utterances fulfilled in the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Lord.

Because of the Christian identification of the Suffering Servant with Jesus, the four Servant Songs become a way of encountering the Lord during this Lenten Season. Not only do they give us a sense of the commitment and endurance that characterized his messianic ministry, but they become a way of touching the bruised face of the Messiah, of hearing the resolute determination that sustained him in the midst of trial, and of rejoicing with him in God's ultimate vindication of his calling and service.)

The second song, spoken in the Servant's own voice, tells of being selected from the womb to become God's mouthpiece and help renew the nation.

Reflect

Today we reflect on the second of the four Servant Songs.

Pray

Take time with the second Servant Song today. Read Isaiah 49:1-7.

Act

The prophet proclaims the call and destiny of the servant of the Lord, who is called and chosen to reveal the light of God to the world.

Listen again to the Scripture through a recording of the second Servant Song.

March 1

March 1

Read

The Servant Songs, Day Three:

(Within the Book of the Prophet Isaiah we encounter four poetic sections known as the Songs of the Suffering Servant. The specific identity of this Servant of the Lord remains the topic of scholarly debate. Perhaps it refers to the prophet Isaiah himself, perhaps the entire nation of Israel, or possibly the promised Messiah. Christian faith sees these prophetic utterances fulfilled in the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Lord.

Because of the Christian identification of the Suffering Servant with Jesus, the four Servant Songs become a way of encountering the Lord during this Lenten Season. Not only do they give us a sense of the commitment and endurance that characterized his messianic ministry, but they become a way of touching the bruised face of the Messiah, of hearing the resolute determination that sustained him in the midst of trial, and of rejoicing with him in God's ultimate vindication of his calling and service.)

In the third song, we learn of the abuse and derision the Servant endured at the hands of his enemies.

Reflect

Today we reflect on the third of the four Servant Songs.

Pray

Take time with the third servant song today. Read Isaiah 50:4-11.

Act

Here, the servant knows and declares that his help is with the Lord. He does not allow suffering to bring shame, disgrace, false guilt, or condemnation. Instead, with strength of spirit, the servant declares trust and faith in God. "The Lord GOD is my help . . . I shall not be put to shame." Amidst darkness and adversity, because he fears the LORD, the servant walks not by his own light but by the light of God.

Listen again to the Scriptures through a recording of the third Servant Song.

March 2

March 2

Read

The Servant Songs, Day Four:

(Within the Book of the Prophet Isaiah we encounter four poetic sections known as the Songs of the Suffering Servant. The specific identity of this Servant of the Lord remains the topic of scholarly debate. Perhaps it refers to the prophet Isaiah himself, perhaps the entire nation of Israel, or possibly the promised Messiah. Christian faith sees these prophetic utterances fulfilled in the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Lord.

Because of the Christian identification of the Suffering Servant with Jesus, the four Servant Songs become a way of encountering the Lord during this Lenten Season. Not only do they give us a sense of the commitment and endurance that characterized his messianic ministry, but they become a way of touching the bruised face of the Messiah, of hearing the resolute determination that sustained him in the midst of trial, and of rejoicing with him in God's ultimate vindication of his calling and service.)

The fourth song proclaims the salvific value of the Servant's innocent suffering that will justify many and blot out their offenses.

Reflect

Today we reflect on the last of the four Servant Songs.

Pray

Take time with the fourth Servant Song today. Read from Isaiah 52:13 to Isaiah 53:12.

Act

Here the prophet proclaims the "prosperity" of God's servant, but it is not a worldly prosperity accomplished through human wisdom. "Who would believe what we have heard?" God's silent and afflicted servant prospers through a life given to God in reparation for sinners. Through suffering, the servant acquires great wealth and "offspring" before God: many are justified before God, iniquity is removed, wounds are healed, and sinners receive an intercessor. The servant prospers in what is true wealth to God.

Listen again to the Scriptures through a recording of the fourth Servant Song.

March 3

March 3

Read

Today we read about St. Katharine Drexel who was dedicated to providing for the needs of African Americans in her community. She also founded Xavier University in New Orleans.

Reflect

St. Katharine Drexel, an heiress of millions, asked the pope for more missionaries, and he told her to become one! So, she left her life of privilege and founded a religious order dedicated to the poor: the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. Have you considered becoming a missionary to build up the Kingdom of God?

Pray

Today we say this prayer to be disciples and missionaries in everyday life.

Act

Join Pope Francis in supporting the work of missionaries all over the world. Consider making a donation today.

March 4

 March 4

020818 wk2Lectio Divina for third week of Lent

 

 

Read

At the opening of today's Gospel, we hear, "Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem." Take time to read today about the Jewish tradition of Passover and how it relates to the Eucharist.

Reflect

Reflect on the readings today with the ancient art of lectio divina.

Pray

Act of Contrition

O my God, I am heartily sorry

for having offended Thee, and I

detest all my sins because of thy

just punishments, but most of all

because they offend Thee, my God,

who art all good and deserving of

all my love. I firmly resolve with the

help of Thy grace to sin no more

and to avoid the near occasion of

sin. Amen.

—Traditional version (USCCA, 536)

Act

In the first reading today, we hear the Ten Commandments. Read this short reflection on the commandments today.

March 5

March 5

Read

During Lent, it is important for us to remember the corporal works of mercy, which are found in the teachings of Jesus and give us a model for how we should treat all others: as if they were Christ in disguise.

Reflect

What small changes would allow you to perform corporal works of mercy: Can you allocate your time differently so you have a couple extra hours to volunteer? Do you discard food that could instead be donated to a local soup kitchen? When was the last time you participated in a blood drive?

Pray

With mercy on your mind, revisit Pope Francis's Year of Mercy Prayer.

Act

Pick one of the seven corporal works of mercy and do it this week!

March 6

March 6

Read

Yesterday, we read about the corporal works of mercy, and today we will focus on the spiritual works of mercy, which have long been a part of the Christian tradition, appearing in the works of theologians and spiritual writers throughout history.

Reflect

Forgiving others is difficult at times because we do not have God's limitless mercy and compassion.  But Jesus teaches us that we should forgive as God forgives, relying on him to help us show others the mercy of God. Are there grudges you are holding on to that you should let go of?

Pray

Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy today.

Act

In practicing one of the spiritual works of mercy, forgiving others, make an effort to go to Confession before Easter

March 7

March 7

Read

Today we remember the two early Christian martyrs, Perpetua and Felicity.

Reflect

Pope Francis said in a morning meditation that Perpetua and Felicity "went to their martyrdom as though they were going to their wedding" (May 22, 2014). He said that Christian joy can be found even in suffering and persecution.  

Pray

Pray for persecuted Christians today with these sample intercessions.

Act

Perpetua and Felicity were put to death because of their belief in Christ. Persecution of Christians continues today in many parts of the world. Take time today to read about places where your brothers and sisters in Christ face persecution.

March 8

March 8

Read

Today we honor and remember St. John of God.

Reflect

St. John of God was extremely dedicated to the sick and dying. Once, when he heard that a hospital was going up in flames, he ran in and rescued the patients and much of the bedding, just before the roof fell in. Moments later, he walked out of the building, miraculously spared. St. John of God is the patron saint of firefighters. Pray to him today to intercede and keep the firefighters in your community safe.

Pray

St. John of God is also remembered as a patron saint of those who care for the sick. Pray for those who care for the sick today.

Lord Jesus, our brother,

you showed your compassion for the sick

when you reached out in love to them.

We praise you for the saving love

that is entrusted among those who care for the sick.

Conform them more and more to your image,

that they may be your healing touch to the sick,

and share the peace

of your Holy Spirit with all they meet.

Glory and praise to you, Christ Jesus,

the Incarnation of the Father's love,

you are Lord forever and ever.

Amen.

Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers, 219

Act

Look up who the patron saint of your profession is today.

March 9

March 9

Read

Today we honor another Lenten saint, St. Frances of Rome, who gave most of her great wealth to the poor.

Reflect

When we give alms, we can give money, our time, and/or our talents. We sacrifice our comfort for the sake of others. How have you viewed almsgiving during this penitential season? Has giving of your time, talent, or treasure brought about a change of heart?

Pray

The ease with which we are able to give alms may depend largely on how much we earn. For those out of work, the challenge is greater still. Today, we pray for those in our life who may be between jobs or looking for work.

Loving God,

you created the human race

and you know each one of us by name.

Through Christ you have chosen us

to be your sons and daughters

and to build up your Kingdom on earth.

Give [insert name here] the work he/she seeks

so that he/she may share his/her talents with others

and know the dignity and satisfaction

that you give to us through our work.

Give him/her patience while you open doors,

and grant him/her the wisdom to see your will.

Keep our family in your care

and provide for all our needs.

Never let stress diminish our love for each other

nor the desire for material things

lessen our love for you.

With confidence and trust, loving God,

we make this prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

—Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers, 303-304

Act

The three pillars of Lent are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Keeping St. Frances of Rome, who donated much of her wealth to the poor, in your thoughts today, consider how much you have donated this Lenten season. Consider some of the ways you can give money to the poor this Lent.

March 10

March 10

Read

St. Marie Eugenie of Jesus Milleret was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on June 3, 2007. In his homily that day, the pope said, "Marie Eugenie Milleret reminds us first of all of the importance of the Eucharist in the Christian life and in spiritual growth . . . In particular, she realized how important it was to pass on to the young generations, especially young girls, an intellectual, moral and spiritual training that would make them adults capable of taking charge of their family life and of making their contribution to the Church and society."

Reflect

Do you foster faith formation of the children in your life? Whether you are a parent, have nieces and nephews, or know youth through friends or your church community, can you do more to help pass on the values of your faith?

Pray

St. Marie Eugenie was called to the religious life. Today we pray this prayer from the US bishops for increased vocations to the priesthood and consecrated religious life.

Good and gracious God,
you have called us through Baptism to
discipleship with your Son, Jesus Christ,
and have sent us to bring the Good News of
salvation to all peoples.
We pray you to grant us more priests and
religious to build up your Church here within
the Diocese of Charlotte.
Inspire our young men and women by
the example of Blessed Junipero Serra to give
themselves totally to the work of Christ and his Church.

We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.
Amen!

Act

Consider becoming a catechist in your parish or finding other ways to help develop youth ministry. It's never too late to get involved.

March 11

March 11

020818 wk3 Lectio Divina for fourth week of Lent

 

 

Read

Lenten Practice Q: "So does that mean that when we give something up for Lent, such as candy, we can have it on Sundays?"

A: Apart from the prescribed days of fast and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and the days of abstinence every Friday of Lent, Catholics have traditionally chosen additional penitential practices for the whole time of Lent. These practices are disciplinary in nature and often more effective if they are continuous, i.e., kept on Sundays as well.  That being said, such practices are not regulated by the Church, but by individual conscience.

Read more Q & As on Lent and Lenten Practices today.

Reflect

Reflect on today's readings using the ancient art of ">lectio divina. . . .

Pray

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so everyone who believes in him might have eternal life." (Jn 3:16, Lectionary, Gospel Acclamation)

Act

Learn more about the Catholic Relief Services Collection hosted in many parishes across the country today.

March 12

March 12

Read

The Seven Penitential Psalms, Day One:

During times when we wish to express repentance, and especially during Lent, it is customary to pray the seven penitential psalms. The penitential designation of these psalms dates back to the seventh century. Prayerfully reciting these psalms will help us to recognize our sinfulness, express our sorrow and ask for God's forgiveness.

Today we will focus on Psalm 6.

Reflect

Read this reflection on Psalm 6—Prayer in Distress.

Pray

"Have pity on me, LORD, for I am weak; heal me, LORD, for my bones are shuddering." (Ps 6:3, NABRE)

Act

In this psalm, the psalmist proclaims his weakness before God, with tears and sighing. Yet he lifts his prayers to the Lord, confident in the Lord, who is merciful.

Listen to a recording of Psalm 6 as you read along with your Bible

March 13

March 13

Read

The Seven Penitential Psalms, Day Two:

(During times when we wish to express repentance, and especially during Lent, it is customary to pray the seven penitential psalms. The penitential designation of these psalms dates back to the seventh century.  Prayerfully reciting these psalms will help us to recognize our sinfulness, express our sorrow and ask for God's forgiveness.)

Today we will focus on Psalm 32.

Reflect

Read this reflection on Psalm 32—Remission of Sin.

Pray

"You are my shelter; you guard me from distress; with joyful shouts of deliverance you surround me." (Ps 32:7, NABRE)

Act

In this chapter, the psalmist laments the oppression of his sins. His sins were once hidden, but he trusted in the Lord and confessed his sin, receiving deliverance and abundant mercy.

Listen to a recording of Psalm 32 as you read along with your Bible.

March 14

March 14

Read

The Seven Penitential Psalms, Day Three:

(During times when we wish to express repentance, and especially during Lent, it is customary to pray the seven penitential psalms. The penitential designation of these psalms dates back to the seventh century. Prayerfully reciting these psalms will help us to recognize our sinfulness, express our sorrow and ask for God's forgiveness.)

Today we will focus on Psalm 38.

Reflect

Read this reflection on Psalm 38—Prayer of an Afflicted Sinner.

Pray

"LORD, do not punish me in your anger, in your wrath do not chastise me!" (Ps 38:2)

Act

The psalmist laments the burden of sin weighing upon him. Yet he cries out before the Lord, sharing his sorrow and waiting faithfully for the Lord's assistance.

Listen to a recording of Psalm 38 as you read along with your Bible.

March 15

March 15

Read

The Seven Penitential Psalms, Day Four:

(During times when we wish to express repentance and especially during Lent, it is customary to pray the seven penitential psalms. The penitential designation of these psalms dates back to the seventh century.  Prayerfully reciting these psalms will help us to recognize our sinfulness, express our sorrow and ask for God's forgiveness.)

Today we will focus on Psalm 51.

Reflect

Read this reflection on Psalm 51—The Miserere: Prayer of Repentance.

Pray

"Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love; in your abundant compassion blog out my transgressions." (Ps 51:3, NABRE)

Act

In this chapter, the psalmist acknowledges his sins to the Lord, and asks God to cleanse him from sin and unrighteousness. With faith in God's purity and faithfulness, he asks to be washed and cleansed, so that his heart may be made pure.

Listen to a recording of Psalm 51 as you follow along with your Bible.

March 16

March 16

Read

"Wherefore, we ask, urgently and prayerfully, that we, as people of God, make of the entire Lenten Season a period of special penitential observance. Following the instructions of the Holy See, we declare that the obligation both to fast and to abstain from meat, an obligation observed under a more strict formality by our fathers in the faith, still binds on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. No Catholic Christian will lightly excuse himself from so hallowed an obligation on the Wednesday which solemnly opens the Lenten season and on that Friday called 'Good' because on that day Christ suffered in the flesh and died for our sins. . . . Gratefully remembering this, Catholic peoples from time immemorial have set apart Friday for special penitential observance by which they gladly suffer with Christ that they may one day be glorified with Him. This is the heart of the tradition of abstinence from meat on Friday where that tradition has been observed in the holy Catholic Church."

(1966 USCCB Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence, no. 12 and no. 18)

Reflect

"If you have fasted two or three days, do not think yourself better than others who do not fast. You fast and are angry; another eats and wears a smiling face."

St. Jerome, Letters, 22.37

Pray

Pray that fasting this Lenten season will help bring you closer to God.

Act

Need some help in planning meatless meals on Fridays? Check out these helpful recipes from Catholic Relief Services.

March 17

March 17

Read

It's St. Patrick's Day! Take time to read about the patron saint of Ireland and how he was a victim of human trafficking prior to his life as a priest and bishop.

Reflect

On March 16, 2016, Pope Francis said in his general audience of St. Patrick: "May his spiritual strength inspire you, dear young people, to be consistent in your faith; may his faith in Christ the Savior sustain you, dear sick people, at the most difficult times; and may his missionary devotion remind you, dear newlyweds, of the importance of Christian education for your children."

Pray

Pray today for end to human trafficking.

Act

Visit the Anti-Trafficking Program webpage on USCCB.org to find out more about what the US bishops are doing to combat human trafficking.

March 18

March 18

020818 wk5 Lectio Divina for fifth week of Lent

 

 

Read

During Lent we often hear about the Jewish tradition of Passover. Today, let's get some answers about Catholic-Jewish relations.

Reflect

Take extra time with the readings today with the art of lectio divina.

Pray

"Whoever serves me must follow me, says the Lord; and where I am, there also will my servant be." (Jn 12:26, Lectionary, Gospel Acclamation)

Act

Today is the Fifth Sunday of Lent, and in two weeks, we will celebrate Easter and the Resurrection of Christ. Do an honest check-in with yourself today on your Lenten spiritual journey so far. Only two weeks left!

March 19

March 19

Read

Today we honor St. Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Reflect

"St. Joseph's silence does not express an inner emptiness but, on the contrary, the fullness of the faith he bears in his heart and which guides his every thought and action. It is a silence thanks to which Joseph, in unison with Mary, watches over the Word of God, known through the Sacred Scriptures, continuously comparing it with the events of the life of Jesus; a silence woven of constant prayer, a prayer of blessing of the Lord, of the adoration of his holy will and of unreserved entrustment to his providence . . . Let us allow ourselves to be filled with St. Joseph's silence! In a world that is often too noisy, that encourages neither recollection nor listening to God's voice, we are in such deep need of it."

—Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus, December 18, 2005

Pray

Say this prayer to St. Joseph today.

Act

Today we will focus on an extra reflection from the USCCB, Be Her Joseph!, which looks at one couple's story about NFP and a husband's inspiration by St. Joseph.

March 20

March 20

Read

The Seven Penitential Psalms, Day Five:

We return to the penitential psalms we explored last week.

(During times when we wish to express repentance and especially during Lent, it is customary to pray the seven penitential psalms.  The penitential designation of these psalms dates from the seventh century. Prayerfully reciting these psalms will help us to recognize our sinfulness, express our sorrow and ask for God's forgiveness.)

Today we will focus on Psalm 102.

Reflect

Read a reflection of Psalm 102—Prayer in Time of Distress.

Pray

"LORD, here my prayer; let my cry come to you. Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress." (Ps 102:2-3, NABRE)

Act

In this psalm, the psalmist calls to God in great distress. He acknowledges his weakness in body and spirit before the Lord. Yet he fixes his sight on the Lord, extolling the Lord's name and his mercy.

Listen to a recording of Psalm 102 as you follow along with your Bible.

March 21

March 21

Read

The Seven Penitential Psalms, Day Six:

We return to the penitential psalms we explored last week.

(During times when we wish to express repentance and especially during Lent, it is customary to pray the seven penitential psalms.  The penitential designation of these psalms dates from the seventh century. Prayerfully reciting these psalms will help us to recognize our sinfulness, express our sorrow and ask for God's forgiveness.)

Today we will focus on Psalm 130.

Reflect

Read a reflection of Psalm 130—Prayer for Pardon and Mercy.

Pray

"Out of the depths I call to you, LORD; Lord, hear my cry! May your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy." (Ps 130:1-2)

Act

From great depths of his soul, the psalmist cries out to the Lord in anguish. But he waits for the Lord, he looks for the Lord, and he hopes in the Lord.

Listen to a recording of Psalm 130 as you follow along with your Bible.

March 22

March 22

Read

The Seven Penitential Psalms, Day Seven:

We return to the penitential psalms we explored last week.

(During times when we wish to express repentance and especially during Lent, it is customary to pray the seven penitential psalms. The penitential designation of these psalms dates from the seventh century. Prayerfully reciting these psalms will help us to recognize our sinfulness, express our sorrow and ask for God's forgiveness.)

Today we will focus on Psalm 143.

Reflect

Read a reflection of Psalm 143—A Prayer in Distress.

Pray

"Hasten to answer me, LORD; for my spirit fails me. Do not hide your face from me, lest I become like those descending to the pit. In the morning let me hear of your mercy, for in you I trust. Show me the path I should walk, for I entrust my life to you." (Ps 143:7-8)

Act

The psalmist pleads his case before the Lord: he is surrounded by enemies, his spirit is faint, and he has nothing left to withstand the righteous judgment of the Lord. And so he begs for mercy, that the Lord would show his face and be his refuge in his time of great need.

Listen to a recording of Psalm 143 as you follow along with your Bible.

March 23

March 23

Read

Today we celebrate the final saint of this Lenten season, St. Turibius of Mogrovejo.

Reflect

Pope Benedict XVI said of St. Turibius of Mogrovejo, "He was a model of respect for the dignity of every human person, whatever his condition, in this way always seeking to arouse the happiness that comes from experiencing oneself as a true son of God."

— Message, March 23, 2006

Pray

Today we pray that we can help build communities in God's vision of justice, just as St. Turibius did.

Act

Have you attended a reading of the Stations of the Cross this Lenten season? Listen to a recording from the USCCB today.

March 24

Read

During the Easter Vigil, one week from today, candidates and catechumens in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults will officially become members of the Catholic Church. Learn more today about RCIA.

Reflect

Read a bit about and reflect on what Pope Francis has to say about Baptism.

Pray

Pray today for the RCIA candidates and catechumens in your community.

Act

Take a little time to remember why we celebrate the Easter Vigil, which will take place a week from today.

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday

020818 palm Lectio Divina for Palm Sunday

 

 

Read

Today marks the beginning of Holy Week. Lent will end at sunset on Holy Thursday and the three days of the Paschal Triduum will begin.

Reflect

Take extra time with the Scriptures today with the art of lectio divina.

Pray

Almighty ever-living God,

who as an example of humility for the human race to follow

caused our Savior to take flesh and submit to the Cross,

graciously grant that we may heed his lesson of patient suffering

and so merit a share in his Resurrection.

Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for every and ever.

(Collect, Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, Roman Missal, Third Edition)

Act

As we remember Christ's suffering and Death in today's gospel reading, reflect on the suffering of many communities around the United States today. Listen to this 2-minute podcast about the Option for the Poor.

March 26

March 26

Read

On Saturday, new members of the Catholic family will be baptized during the Easter Vigil. Take time today to read about the Sacrament of Baptism.

Reflect

"After being baptized, we acknowledge or receive a white garment to signify that we have risen with Christ. We receive a lighted candle, which symbolizes that we are a new creation, enlightened by Christ. We are now called to carry that light into the dark world to extend the light to others" (CCC, no. 1243).

Pray

Is there a baptized child in your life (your own son or daughter, sibling, niece or nephew, children of friends) you can pray in thanksgiving for today

Act

Today we read this Mother's Reflection on Liturgy, which reflects on the Rite of Baptism through the eyes of one mother.

March 27

March 27

Read

On Saturday, new members of our Catholic family will receive their first Holy Communion. Read more about the Eucharistic Liturgy today.

Reflect

"Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.'"  (John 6:35, NABRE)

Pray

Today we pray for charity in truth.

Act

While members of our community are receiving Communion during the Mass, that is often the time for reflection and prayer. Reflect on how you use that time during Mass each week and make a concerted effort this weekend to remain present to the Lord at Mass.

March 28

March 28

Read

Today we read about the Sacrament of Confirmation and are reminded of the choice we made to be full members of the Church when we were confirmed.

Reflect

"Dear brothers and sisters, being the Church, to be the People of God, in accordance with the Father's great design of love, means to be the leaven of God in this humanity of ours. It means to proclaim and to bring the God's salvation to this world of ours, so often led astray, in need of answers that give courage, hope and new vigor for the journey. . . . We must go out through these doors and proclaim the Gospel." —Pope Francis, General Audience, June 12, 2013

Pray

O God, by the light of the Holy

Spirit you have taught the hearts

of your faithful. In the same Spirit,

help us to know what is truly right

and always to rejoice in your

consolation. We ask this through

Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

—USCCA, 534

Act

Look up the saint of whose name you chose at your own confirmation. Read their biography and reflect on why you chose them.

Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday

Read

"With this Mass, celebrated in the evening of the Thursday in Holy Week, the Church begins the sacred Easter Triduum and devotes herself to the remembrance of the Last Supper. At the super on the night he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus, loving those who were his own in the world even to the end, offered his Body and Blood to the Father under the appearance of bread and wine, gave them to the apostles to eat and drink, then enjoined the apostles and their successors in the priesthood to offer them in turn. This Mass is, first of all, the memorial of the institution of the eucharist, that is, of the Memorial of the Lord's Passover, by which under sacramental signs he perpetuated among us the sacrifice of the New Law. The Mass of the Lord's Supper is also the memorial of the institution of the priesthood, by which Christ's mission and sacrifice are perpetuated in the world. In addition, this Mass is the memorial of that love by which the Lord loved us even to death . . ."

—"The Roman Missal and the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper," USCCB.org, citing the Ceremonial of Bishops, no. 297

Reflect

"Our bodies, when they receive the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, having the hope of the resurrection to eternity."

—St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, 4.18.5

Pray

Pray again today for those who will be entering into the fullness of the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil.

Act

Attend Mass this evening and invite friends and family to join you.

Good Friday

Good Friday

Read

Today is Good Friday. Take time to read about our observance of Good Friday in the Catholic Church.

Reflect

"The Christian meaning of death is revealed in the light of the Paschal mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ in whom resides our only hope" (CCC, no. 1681).

Pray

Pray in thanksgiving today for Jesus, who gave his life for sinners, so that we might have eternal life.

Act

Take another opportunity to give alms before Easter by donating to the Collection for the Holy Land.

Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday

Read

Have you read all of the Mass readings for tonight's Easter Vigil?

Reflect

"Christ is risen from the dead! Rise with him! Christ is returned again to himself! So you, too, return! Christ is freed from the tomb! Be freed from the bond of sin!"

—St. Gregory Nazianzen, Orations, 45.1

Pray

"Praise the Lord who bore the spear and who received the nails in his hands, in his feet. He entered into hell and took its spoils."

—St. Ephrem of Syria, Hymns on the Nativity, 13.30

Act

Attend Mass this evening and invite friends and family to join you.

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday

Read

Easter does not just last for a day! Take time to read about the span of the Easter season today.

Reflect

Take extra time with the readings today practicing lectio divina.

Pray

O God, who on this day,

through your Only Begotten Son,

have conquered death

and unlocked for us the path to eternity,

grant, we pray, that we who keep

the solemnity of the Lord's Resurrection

may, through the renewal brought by your Spirit,

rise up in the light of life.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

(Collect, Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord, Mass During the Day, Roman Missal, Third Edition)

Act

Christ is Risen! Spread the Good News!