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Entries in Lent (15)


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


Lent, God’s Love Story for His  Children

Lent is often associated with ‘giving something up’, but it is really a time of spiritual discipline, a time of preparation for the great feast of Easter.

A disciple is one who learns from the master. Immediately after his baptism, Mark says that the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness/desert to be tempted by the devil. The desert represents times in our lives of struggle, disorientation, and painful experiences that make us vulnerable to temptation.  Lent offers a special opportunity of taking our woundedness to the divine physician for healing.

We enter into the rhythm of lent beginning with Ash Wednesday.

Jesus invites us to greater intimacy through

Prayer – healing for ourselves and the world;

Fasting – depriving self of physical support through discipline and growing trust in God.

Almsgiving – sharing our resources generously with the poor.

In the following five weeks, we journey with the gospel themes of repentance, mercy, forgiveness, as we build the Kingdom of God in preparation for Easter.

Passion/Palm Sunday week, the holiest week of the Christian year, focuses our attention on the sacred mysteries of:

Holy Thursday: the Blessed Eucharist and the washing of the feet,

Good Friday: the suffering and death of Jesus for the salvation of the world

Easter Sunday: Jesus vanquishes death forever through love.

Lent is a good time to begin or deepen the Lenten practices of prayer, discipline, and almsgiving.  Through these ascetic practices we learn to nurture the silence within, and come to experience joy and wellbeing.

Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus.

                                                                                                                         Anne Marshall, csj


Forward to the Fullness of Time

We are quickly moving toward the climatic week of Lent with the great celebration of the Triduum – three holy days, marking the mystery of death and resurrected life. Here in my religious community our Lenten journey has called us to a huge experience of surrender as we have bid farewell to 6 of our Sisters during these Lenten days.

Our hearts ache, and fond memories are related at the meal tables. Prayers of gratitude are voiced and a conviction of faith is expressed in song and gesture.

The scripture readings for this Fifth Sunday of Lent will indeed help us contain this experience. Jeremiah assures us that we are tenderly loved by God, just as we are. Whimsically there is even a promise that we will no longer need to teach our friends and relatives about God – because all will know God. It is that deep, deep sense of loving relationship that holds our community together during this time of loss. The mystery of death is gathered up in the compassionate love of the Holy One who places the stark absence within a promise written on our hearts.

In the gospel passage one person states “Sir, we would like to see Jesus”.  And Jesus responds that to see, one must totally surrender. Just as a grain of wheat dies in order to bear fruit, so too our surrender opens us to an awareness of the One Great LOVE within. The promise is held out: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”

As our dear Sisters are drawn home into the heart of God, one by one, our experience as a Congregation widens to hold the tender mystery of Christ’s passage, from being a loving presence among humanity, to a glorified radiance calling us ever forward to the fullness of time.

And with deep gratitude we honour: Sr. Theresa Carmel Slavik, Sr. St. Edward Grace, Sr. Beta Gagnon, Sr. Clare Sullivan, Sr. Nicole Aubé, and Sr. Bernadette Boyde.

Sr. Theresa Carmel Slavik

Reflection by Loretta Manzara, CSJ




Sr. St. Edward Grace

Sr. Clare Sullivan





Sr. Nicole AubeSr. Bernadette Boyde


Sr. Beata Gagnon


Valentine’s Day RECYCLED

As a child, I did not like when Valentine’s Day fell within the Lenten Season. It seemed like all the joy of chocolate and candy and hearts was lost. And today, I fear that celebration with a glass of “bubbly” could be forfeited as well. Obviously, I am invited to ponder more deeply the issue of “hearts”; maybe I hear the invitation to respond “with heart” in other ways. Perhaps I might consider the call to conversion as a concern that embraces not just myself and my wishes, but to a love that encompasses the world and all creation. Might I feel the call to stretch my heart and my desire into an acceptance of God’s dream for our world?

Pondering our traditional Lenten practices, I could seize the opportunity to consider where love is most needed. Can I seek out one lonely person for a friendly and consoling chat?  

In the fasting to which the Church invites me today, can I stand in solidarity with the hungry in my city and in the world? Might I pray with the countless refugees and the abused in shelters and shattered relationships?

As I fast from food or media or chatter, may I ask for awareness to know how to respond with life-giving action for others. Recalling Jesus’ forty long days in the desert, I am reminded that these forty days are a call to share with others of my riches. As I wear my dirty forehead on Ash Wednesday, may I do so in solidarity with all in our world who seek for water to wash or drink? I pray that the “bubbly” forfeited above might in some way be transformed into bubbles of happiness or buckets of water for others. I pray to keep pondering the mystery and opportunities that these 40 days hold.

Helen Russell, CSJ 


This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-NC



Becoming the new palm for next year's ashes

The greeting prayed before the Palm Sunday procession reads … “since the beginning of Lent until now we have prepared our hearts by penance and charitable works. Today we gather together to herald with the whole church the beginning of the celebration of Our Lord’s Paschal mystery…” It seems such a short time ago that as I stepped outside the side door of the Hamilton residence the smell of burning palm leaves assailed my nose as the palms were being burned for use during the next day’s Ash Wednesday liturgy. Last year’s palms now used for this year’s ashes. This caused me to reflect as Lent began upon the changes in my own life between last Palm Sunday and this Ash Wednesday. Significant changes that involved life and death and new life. And here we are again at Palm Sunday following the anointing of those ashes from last year reflecting on how our hearts have been prepared in order to enter as fully as possible into the celebrations of this year’s Triduum. As palm was transformed into ashes, how have I undergone my own transformation by my Lenten practices? I’ve observed over the years that there is almost a sadness as Lent ends. Lent seems to provide the needed spiritual backbone to engage in choices that lead to more balanced living and helps create interior space. Lent also provides an opportunity to stretch oneself, to make choices that I wouldn’t even consider outside of Lent. This stretching helps us touch in to how Jesus was stretched in entering in to his Passion. Scott Lewis SJ wrote that in contemplating the Passion we should see how far love was willing to go on our behalf and he invites us to ask ourselves each day how far we are willing to go out of love and compassion for others. It is another way of touching into our call to self-emptying love. So Lent for this year comes to an end but hopefully some of the changes we experienced and stretching we did will now become the new palm for next year’s ashes.    

Mary McIntyre, CSJ


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