Lenten Reflections

March 22nd

In the parable of the prodigal son, Christ shows us mercy as a love that is “able to reach down to every prodigal son, to every human misery, and above all to every form of moral misery, to sin. When this happens, the person who is the object of mercy does not feel humiliated, but rather found again and ‘restored to value’.” Thus, “mercy is manifested in its true and proper aspect when it restores to value, promotes and draws good from all the forms of evil existing in the world and in man.”

–  Pope St. John Paul II,  from Dives in Misericordia

March 21st

O God, I beseech you, let us follow your example. The more we suffer and the more we are tempted, the more we should pray. In prayer is our only help, our only strength, our only consolation. […] The deeper into agony we fall, the more necessary it is for us to throw ourselves into the embrace of our beloved, pressing ourselves against him in uninterrupted prayer.

– Bl. Charles de Foucauld

March 20th

Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same attitude (for whoever suffers in the flesh has broken with sin), so as not to spend what remains of one’s life in the flesh on human desires, but on the will of God. For the time that has passed is sufficient for doing what the Gentiles like to do: living in debauchery, evil desires, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and wanton idolatry. They are surprised that you do not plunge into the same swamp of profligacy, and they vilify you; but they will give an account to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead.

– St. Peter (1 Peter 4:1-5)

March 19th (Solemnity of St. Joseph)

“He was chosen by the eternal Father as the trustworthy guardian and protector of his greatest treasures, namely, his divine Son and Mary, Joseph’s wife. He carried out this vocation with complete fidelity until at last, God called him, saying: ‘Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.’”

– St. Bernardine of Siena

March 18th

At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love.

– St. John of the Cross

March 17th

The sign of the cross makes kings of all those reborn in Christ and the anointing of the Holy Spirit consecrates them as priests, so that, apart from the particular service of our ministry, all spiritual and rational Christians are recognized as members of this royal race and sharers in Christ’s priestly office. What, indeed, is as royal for a soul as to govern the body in obedience to God? And what is as priestly as to dedicate a pure conscience to the Lord and to offer the spotless offering of devotion on the altar of the heart?

-St. Leo the Great

March 16th

Be humble towards God and gentle with your neighbor. Judge and accuse no one but yourself, and ever excuse others. Speak of God always to praise and glorify Him, speak of your neighbor only with respect — do not speak of yourself at all, either well or ill.

— St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

March 15th

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

-Galatians 2:20

March 14th

Late have I loved you,
Beauty so ancient and so new,
late have I loved you!

Lo, you were within,
but I outside, seeking there for you,
and upon the lovely things you have made
I rushed headlong,
I, misshapen.
You were with me but I was not with you.
They held me back far from you,
those things which would have no being
were they not in you.

You called, shouted, broke through my deafness;
you flared, blazed, banished my blindness;
you lavished your fragrance,
I gasped, and now I pant for you;
I tasted you, and I hunger and thirst;
you touched me, and I burned for your peace.

– St. Augustine

March 13th

“Every action of yours, every thought, should be those of one who expects to die before the day is out. Death would have no great terror for you if you had a quiet conscience… Then why not keep clear of sin instead of running away from death? If you aren’t fit to face death today, it’s very unlikely you will be tomorrow…”

–Thomas a Kempis, From The Imitation of Christ

March 12th

“[Human nature’s] natural inclination to virtue is diminished by sin because human acts produce an inclination to like acts.  Now from the very fact that a thing becomes inclined to one of two contraries, its inclination to the other contrary must needs be diminished. Wherefore as sin is opposed to virtue, from the very fact that a man sins, there results a diminution of the good of [human] nature, which is the inclination to virtue.”

-St. Thomas Aquinas

March 11th

“Christ said, ‘I was hungry and you gave me food.’ He was hungry not only for bread but for the understanding love of being loved, of being known, of being someone to someone. He was naked not only of clothing but of human dignity and of respect, through the injustice that is done to the poor, who are looked down upon simply because they are poor. He was dispossessed not only of a house made of bricks but because of the dispossession of those who are locked up, of those who are unwanted and unloved, of those who walk through the world with no one to care for them…Do we go out to meet those? Do we know them? Do we try to find them?”

-St. Teresa of Calcutta

March 10th

“Each of you knows that the foundation of our faith is charity. Without it, our religion would crumble. We will never be truly Catholic unless we conform our entire lives to the two commandments that are the essence of the Catholic faith: to love the Lord, our God, with all our strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.”

— Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

March 9th

“In times of aridity when I am incapable of praying, of practicing virtue, I seek little opportunities, mere trifles, to give pleasure to Jesus; for instance a smile, a pleasant word when inclined to be silent and to show weariness. If I find no opportunities, I at least tell Him again and again that I love Him; that is not difficult and it keeps alive the fire in my heart. Even though this fire of love might seem extinct I would still throw little straws upon the embers and I am certain it would rekindle.”

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

March 8th

“Do not be troubled if you do not immediately receive from God what you ask him; for he desires to do something even greater for you, while you cling to him in prayer.”

— Evagrius Ponticus

“God wills that our desire should be exercised in prayer, that we may be able to receive what he is prepared to give.”

—St. Augustine

March 7th

“Penance doesn’t mean a thing if it’s not God’s Will. St. Teresa of Avila was so determined that she was going to do all these penance one Lent. Well, she got into bed and was so sick everybody had to wait on her. She complained to the Lord, and He said to her, ‘That was your penance, but this is mine for you.’ We all have ideas of how we’re going to be holy and how we’re going to do penance. It’s amazing what we’ll do if it’s our will, but if it’s God’s Will we all scream.”

Mother Angelica

March 6th (Ash Wednesday)

“The fast of Lent has no advantage to us unless it brings about our spiritual renewal. It is necessary while fasting to change our whole life and practice virtue. Turning away from all wickedness means keeping our tongue in check, restraining our anger, avoiding all gossip, lying and swearing. To abstain from these things— herein lies the true value of the fast.”

— St. John Chrysostom

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