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Entries in Lent 1 (3)


Granola bars and curbside  sharing

Well, here we are beginning another sequence of 40 days in preparation for the celebration of Easter! I have been around this cycle 70 odd times. What is the new for this year? What energy and hope is equal to the great mystery of love that Jesus offers?

I recently read an article that immediately shifted my thought back to a dear relative, who practices almsgiving not just during Lent, but every day of the year. I admire her so very much. She has that wonderful ability to hold compassion and common sense in one basket. A solid woman of faith. Whether it be a granola bar or a $5 Tim’s gift card, she is ready to share what little she has with the outstretched hand on the corner, at the intersection, in front of the grocery store. She recognizes struggle and dignity. I see in her actions the sacred. Recognizing another human being, sharing an awareness that the life we all share is life given by God. That brief encounter can be more than one person helping another; it is an exchange of love inherent in all whom God has created. Christ’s birth into human life has raised the bar. Every encounter is a God encounter, concretized in the ordinariness of daily life.

Lent, characterized by the actions of prayer, fasting and almsgiving is filled with liturgical readings that remind us: “I was hungry and you gave me to eat”. Maybe this Lent, my “new” will be to focus on all those miracle moments when the hungry are fed . . and give thanks, that humanity cares.

You might like to view the article that got me thinking

- Loretta Manzara, csj


First Sunday of Lent : Self-Surrendering Love

I am a sinner in need of God’s mercy. Really, I know that, but in my heart, do I believe it? Do you believe that? If I/you could embody this truth, would the next forty days be a time of deep spiritual renewal and transformation?

Many of us have had our own wilderness experiences. Mine occurred during a retreat a few years ago. I was experiencing a very dark time. I felt that if I could make a general confession, I would feel better. I approached the retreat priest and with much trepidation told him I wanted to make a general confession. He said, “have you confessed these sins before?”, I said, “yes, but I’m not sure that I didn’t forget some.” He said, “have you forgiven yourself?  Do you trust that God in His mercy has forgiven you? God loves you and He knows what’s in your heart.”

Pope Frances speaks of an attitude of the heart, one which approaches life with serene attentiveness, which is capable of being fully present to the other person, one who accepts each moment as a gift from God to be lived to the full. (Laudato Si, p.147)

My prayer during retreat was, ‘Jesus, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner’. Toward the end of the retreat, deep in the silence of my heart, I heard the echo of these words, ‘you are my beloved daughter, in you I am well pleased.’  The darkness lifted and I was filled with gratitude and peace.

God’s steadfast love and faithfulness are reflected in the scripture readings. God makes a covenant with Noah to love and protect all living creatures and the earth itself. In the Psalm we are reminded again of the beauty and union with God experienced by all who embrace this covenant of abiding love. It speaks of a living hope, a new birth and an unshakeable faith. The Gospel takes us into the desert with Jesus where He spent forty days in prayer and fasting. He, in humility allowed Himself to be tempted by the devil. He overcame the temptations and remained in union with the Father in total self-surrendering love. 

We, too have our temptations.

Pope Frances in his Lenten message to the Church (2015) speaks clearly on what Lent should really be. He urges that instead of abstaining from food or drink, we should fast from indifference. He says, “indifference to our neighbor and to God represents a real temptation for us Christians.”

Describing what he calls the ‘globalization of indifference’ he writes, “whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard. The quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades.”  He continues that, “we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this was someone else’s responsibility and not our own.”

As we begin our Lenten journey, may we be renewed in spirit and experience God’s essence of love, forgiveness and mercy.

Mary McGuire, CSJ


Put Your Best Self Forward


Counters of scriptural references have cited 146 incidences of the number 40 in the bible. For example, in the time of Noah, it rained 40 days and 40 nights; Moses spent 40 years in the desert escaping Pharaoh’s death penalty after killing the Egyptian; the Israelites wandered around in arid lands before entering the promised land; and this first week’s Gospel reading focuses on Jesus being lead into the wilderness where his priorities, sense of self and faith were put to the test.

Lent begins and we find ourselves embarking on a forty-day grace-filled, spiritual journey. “Why 40 days?” you may wonder. The season of Lent is traditionally observed as a time of conversion and renewal. Recalling that renewal is synonymous to rebirth may help us grasp the underlying significance of forty. Pregnancy is customarily measured as 40 weeks.* Thus, forty takes on a symbolic meaning in reference to the process of our spiritual rebirthing.

On the internet, I found the Vatican’s English translation of the Pope’s Lenten message. In his message Francis reminds followers that Lent urgently calls us to conversion. He is quick to remind us that Lent is a favourable time for deepening our spiritual life through the tried-and-true means of fasting, prayer and almsgiving.  We would be wise to reflect in what new ways we might give expression to the essence of these traditional practices in our times?

In another web article referring to the topic – Put Your Best Self Forward** three key points were highlighted in reference to approaching situations, other people and life confidently. It sparked me into wondering whether these same three watchwords, “Walk lightly, Stand tall and Just breathe”, might aptly hold us in good stead as we embrace Lent this year.

Might Walk lightly be a gentle appeal to divest ourselves of needless anxiety, the overabundance of consumer goods and ready ourselves to convey hope and compassion to others.

Might Stand tall be an encouragement to rest assured that the God of Goodness beholds us as beloved.

Might Just breathe be an invitation to slow down, to be still and tune into God’s loving wisdom for us.

As you continue your Lenten journey may you grow in confidence that you are a MIRROR reflecting the goodness of Love to those who are your companions on the journey.

Nancy Wales, CSJ


*Human gestational length averages 38 weeks (8.74 months) from conception. However, pregnancy is customarily measured from the date of the last menstrual period — about 2 weeks before conception. By this scale, pregnancy lasts 40 weeks, or 9.20 months. https://www.quora.com/Why-do-people-say-a-pregnancy-is-a-nine-months-when-it-is...

**Put Your Best Self Forward-  www.gokhalemthod.com/blog/57518








Copyright 2013. Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada.