Lenten Reflections

April 20th (Easter Vigil)

It behooved Christ to rise again, for five reasons:

First of all, for the commendation of Divine Justice, to which it belongs to exalt those who humble themselves for God’s sake, […] Consequently, because Christ humbled Himself even unto the death of the Cross, from love and obedience to God, it behooved Him to be lifted up by God unto a glorious Resurrection;

Secondly, for our instruction in the Faith, since our belief in Christ’s Divinity is confirmed by His rising again,

Thirdly, for the raising of our hope, since, seeing Christ Who is our Head rise again, we hope that we likewise shall rise again.

Fourthly, to set in order the lives of the faithful;

Fifthly, in order to complete the work of our salvation; because, just as for this reason did He endure evil things in dying that He might deliver us from evil, so was He glorified in rising again in order to advance us towards good things;

-St. Thomas Aquinas

April 19th (Good Friday)

“Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.”

— St. Rose of Lima

April 18th (Holy Thursday)

“I urge you with all the strength of my soul to approach the Eucharistic Table as often as possible. Feed on this Bread of the Angels from which you will draw the strength to fight inner struggles.”

— Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

April 17th

“What was it that caused the death of Our Lord? Not the executioners, not the Jews, not the agony of the cross; they were but instruments. It was sin. Sin had in it a malice sufficient even to rob of life God, Our Lord and King. What a strange mystery sin is! And how strange that we do not hate it more when we see its power to destroy!

The death of Jesus was no transient occurrence. He still mystically dies for us each day and each hour. When we receive holy Communion, we “show the death of the Lord till He come.” and, therefore, His sacred Passion and Death should be the chief subject of our thoughts whenever we approach the holy Table, and especially on the eve of the solemn day when He instituted the sacrament of His love.”

– from The Sacred Passion of Jesus Christ: Short Meditations for Lent, by Father Richard Frederick Clark, S.J.

April 16th

“If I am not (in the state of grace), God put me there.  If I am, please God so keep me.”

-St. Joan of Arc

April 15th

Let us therefore, love to quench our thirst at this fountain of living water and go farther all the time along the divine way of love. But let us also be convinced that our souls will never be satisfied here below. In fact, it would be disastrous for us if, at a certain stage of our journey, we were to feel satisfied, for it would be a sign that we thought we had reached our goal, and in this we would be deceived.

-Padre Pio

April 14th (Palm Sunday)

Ultimately, in the battle against lies and violence, truth and love have no other weapon than the witness of suffering.”

– Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

April 13th

“Detachment is an overwhelming attachment to God.”

– Mother Angelica

April 12th

“He that sacrifices to God his property by alms-deeds, his honor by bearing insults, or his body by mortifications, by fasts and penitential rigours, offers to Him a part of himself and of what belongs to him; but he that sacrifices to God his will, by obedience, gives to Him all that he has, and can say: Lord, having given you my will, I have nothing more to give you.”

— St. Alphonsus Liguori

April 11th

“Go to your crucifix: look upon it and see all of (God’s) predictions accomplished, even the least of them. Say to yourself: everything will be fulfilled, and the happiness that has been promised to me will not fail. I will see God, I will love him, I will praise him forever and ever, and all my desires will be fulfilled, all my hopes accomplished. Amen. Amen.”

– Bishop Bossuet

April 10th

The best way not to find the bed too cold is to go to bed colder than the bed is.

-St. Charles Borromeo

April 9th

“With a humble person, whether he is laughed at or esteemed, praised or blamed, honored or despised, whether people pay attention to him or pass him by, it is all the same to him.”

– St. John Vianney

April 8th

“Are you capable of risking your life for someone? Do it for Christ.”

– Pope St. John Paul II

April 7th

“Labor without stopping; do all the good works you can while you still have the time.”

– Saint John of God

April 6th

“The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.”

— St. Thomas More

April 5th

“If you truly want to help the soul of your neighbor, you should approach God first with all your heart. Ask him simply to fill you with charity, the greatest of all virtues; with it you can accomplish what you desire.”

– Saint Vincent Ferrer

April 4th

“You are asking for something that would be harmful to your salvation if you had it—so by not getting what you’ve asked, you really are getting what you want.”

— St. Catherine of Siena

April 3rd

“Reading the holy Scriptures confers two benefits. It trains the mind to understand them; it turns man’s attention from the follies of the world and leads him to the love of God. Two kinds of study are called for here. We must first learn how the Scriptures are to be understood, and then see how to expound them with profit and in a manner worthy of them . . . No one can understand holy Scripture without constant reading . . . The more you devote yourself to the study of the sacred utterances, the richer will be your understanding of them, just as the more the soil is tilled, the richer the harvest.”

— St. Isidore of Seville

April 2nd

“Think well. Speak well. Do well. These three things, through the mercy of God, will make a man go to Heaven.”

– Saint Camillus de Lellis

April 1st

“The devil attacks us at the time of prayer more frequently than at other times. His object is to make us weary of prayer.”

– Blessed Henry Suso, OP

March 31st (Laetare Sunday)

Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad because of her, all you who love her; Rejoice with her in her joy, all you who mourn over her.”

— Isaiah 66:10

March 30th

“As we have seen, there is sometimes a big difference between what God is actually asking of us, and what we imagine he is asking. We won’t have the grace to do what God is not asking of us. But for what he is asking, he has promised us his grace: God grants what he commands. When God inspires us to do something (if it really is God who is the source of the inspiration), at the same time he supplies the ability to do it, even if it is beyond our capacity or scares us at the start. Every motion that comes from God brings both the light to understand what God intends, and the strength to accomplish it: light that illuminates the mind, and strength that gives power to the will.”

-Fr. Jacques Philippe

March 29th

“Confession heals, confession justifies, confession grants pardon of sin…. In confession, there is a chance for mercy. Believe it firmly. Hope and have confidence in confession.”

-St. Isidore of Seville

March 28th

“The path of virtue is painful to nature when left to itself; but nature, assisted by grace, finds easy and agreeable.”

– Venerable Louis of Granada

March 27th

“A man who governs his passions is master of his world.  We must either command them or be enslaved by them.  It is better to be a hammer than an anvil.”

– St. Dominic

March 26th

“I have heard your voice, and I don’t want to harden my heart to resisting, by saying ‘later…tomorrow.’  Nunc coepi!  Now!  Lest there be no tomorrow for me!”

– St. Josemaria Escriva

March 25th (Solemnity of the Annunciation)

If you were an artist, would you allow someone to prepare your canvas with daubs? Then why should God be expected to act differently when He prepares to unite to Himself a human nature like ours, in all things, save sin? But having lifted up one woman by preserving her from sin, and then having her freely ratify that gift at the Annunciation, God gave hope to our disturbed, neurotic, gauche, and weak humanity.

– Venerable Fulton Sheen

March 24th

There are three things, my brethren, by which faith stands firm, devotion remains constant, and virtue endures. They are prayer, fasting and mercy. Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains, mercy receives. Prayer, mercy and fasting: these are one, and they give life to each other.

– St. Peter Chrysologus

March 23rd

The creator of the heavens obeys a carpenter; the God of eternal glory listens to a poor virgin. Has anyone ever witnessed anything comparable to this? Let the philosopher no longer disdain from listening to the common laborer; the wise, to the simple; the educated, to the illiterate; a child of a prince, to a peasant.

–  St. Anthony of Padua

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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