Am I too late?

tell-me-not(This Last-day-of Lent reflection is a guest post offered by Shannon O’Donnell. She is a longtime online Catholic friend, from the Seattle-Tacoma area, author, and jail chaplain. Her words never fail to move me.) It’s the last week of Lent, the last days, really. Some days I have been aware of the season, other days, not so much. In the county jail where I work, “Lent” describes more than just those six weeks before Easter. Some people refer to it as “Hell on the Hill.”

In mid-February, we distributed ashes at Catholic services. At communion services and prayer groups, at the one Mass, and I carried a small box of ashes with me as I met with offenders for private talks. Ashes were one thing most people could relate to, so anyone who asked received them.

Out in the parishes, Continue reading

Last gasps of Lent

-1Here we are, another Lent come and nearly gone. How do we feel? Any different from how we felt on Ash Wednesday? Or how we felt last year? Or the year before?

If you look at the selected Evening Prayer in the daily devotional Give Us This Day, you will find a reading from the Book of Acts (Acts 17:27b-31). It is not the standard evening prayer for today, as found in the Liturgy of the Hours, but I read it (yes – early, because I thought I was giving a reflection on it tonight) and I thought it really delivered the message of what these last gasps of Lent might offer us.

imagesHere we are at the end of our 40 day trek through the desert. We are likely weary, hot, tired, thirsty, exhausted. Or maybe we are not, because we saw the “last oasis before Easter” exit earlier in our Lenten journey, so we did the sensible thing – we bailed.

Some of us may be Continue reading

How will you enter?

christs_entry_into_jerusalem_hippolyte_flandrin_1842Today we remember that Jesus’ entered Jerusalem to cries of  Hosanna, meaning  “save, we pray!” Hosanna is also interpreted to mean blessed as well. The messiah enters the holy city at the start of the festival of Passover to save and to bless – but not in any way that people might have imagined. We are also called to consider how we will enter into Jerusalem ourselves.

What are our hopes, dreams, beliefs, and prayers today? Do we cry out for Jesus to “save, we pray?” Do we cry out to be bless or be blessed?  Do we believe that Jesus will , or in fact, has already, saved us? Or are we just showing up because Continue reading

Say yes

Silence. Listening. Emptying. Filling. Receiving. Giving.

Today I offer you a repost from a few years ago, with some questions… What seemingly impossible things are we called to say yes to today? What is in the space between God and our yes that makes for miracles? How will we each bring Christ into the world without reservation?

Musings on caffeine, prayer and addiction by Susan Grunder

8747XLarge(Guest contributor Susan Grunder is back, with a beautiful reflection that invites us to think about our dependencies and about God. So perfect for this point in Lent.) This morning I found myself in a semi-dark kitchen grinding coffee beans. I hate having to grind the beans in the morning (my apologies to all of coffee purists who might be reading). But not having my half-caf in the morning would certainly be worse—for me and for all those around me. This is a first world problem, I know. I have the luxury of fresh coffee beans, clean running water, electricity to light the pre-dawn darkness of my cozy kitchen, and the time to reflect on my coffee addiction.

8846747041822As a younger woman, coffee wasn’t my drug. I was a Diet Coke girl. In college I could roll out of bed, grab a “DC” and head to class. I’m pretty sure that if I had cut myself during my young adult years, I might have Continue reading

Rejoice in God’s mercy

JUBILEE-YEAR-OF-MERCYToday we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Lent – a day meant for rejoicing. Not unlike King Cyrus declaring the return to Jerusalem to our beleaguered Jewish ancestors during the Babylonian exile, Pope Francis brings us news to make Laetare Sunday especially joyful this year!

From America Magazine:

“In a surprising and far-reaching decision, Pope Francis has announced an extraordinary “Jubilee of Mercy” that will extend from December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016, and will involve the Catholic Church throughout the world.”

As we pass the midpoint of Lent we are encouraged to Continue reading

Underachieving by design

'Interesting. . . I see you have a degree in 'Under Achieving'. . .'Another day in Lent, another Gospel challenge. Today – underachieving by design! Yes, you are thinking, “what is she on about now?” You know me, sometimes I like to kid – even, perhaps especially, during Lent.

Achievement. Our world seems pretty much built around it. I worked in the media business for 27 years. My first job was as what was then called (does it even exist now?) “sales assistant.” What did I do? I was a glorified secretary, working for a salesperson. In 1980, this was more likely a man than a woman. If you did your job really well, you would be promoted to – wow, I can’t even remember the title. In was the over-glorified secretary I guess, because you worked for the sales manager, and you supervised the other sales assistants. Yes, I did get this job and I was an incredible disaster at it. At that age I did not have a clue about servant leadership, or that such a thing existed – I was just not ready for any of it.

Today’s Gospel is very clear, if you seek greatness, be willing to serve, not lord your greatness over people. In this passage from Matthew, the mother of the sons of Zebedee approaches Jesus and Continue reading

Confusing and confounding

SacrificeAbrahamThis Sunday we hear about Abraham and Isaac in the first reading from Genesis. (Readings here.) This is a really tough one, even though we know the outcome.

By contrast, today, on Saturday, we hear about obedience, following God’s laws, statutes, and commands. (Readings here.) Today’s Gospel is very clear, we are compelled to love our enemies.

Sacrifice our children and love our enemies. No wonder we are challenged by our faith. How can we make sense of any of this? It is thoroughly confusing and confounding. Yet here we are, trying to make sense of it. We see that Isaac is spared, but we know that Jesus is not. As a result of Jesus not being spared, we are free. Given this, is Continue reading

Ash Wednesday, one week later – a guest post by Susan Grunder

shutterstock253202413Ash Wednesday was one week ago. How is it going? Did you start out Lent with the best of intentions?

Last Sunday we heard about God’s covenant with us. In the Psalm, we cry out to the Lord to teach us his paths. To remember us. In the Gospel, we see Jesus driven by the Spirit into the desert. Jesus doesn’t lead the Spirit into the desert. The Spirit drives him. Where is the Spirit driving us this Lent?

800px-The_Game_of_LentSometimes we look at Lent as a chance to reboot our New Year’s Resolutions. We just change the names to fit the traditional “Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving.” We might call it fasting, but, let’s be honest, we are really hoping to lose some weight while we are at it. We might set aside time for prayer so we can check that box or mark it off of our daily Lenten to-do-list, but are we really engaged in our prayer? Are we opening ourselves up for the activity of the Holy Spirit? For Inspiration in the true sense of word? Are we pausing for a moment to allow Continue reading

Temptation

Brooklyn_Museum_-_Jesus_Tempted_in_the_Wilderness_(Jésus_tenté_dans_le_désert)_-_James_Tissot_-_overallFrom the Gospel of Mark heard on the First Sunday of Lent:
The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.

Jesus was tempted. Sometimes it may be difficult for us, with our binary brains, separating everything into one side or the other, to fully hold and understand Jesus’ full humanity along with his full divinity. As a result, understanding Jesus subject to truly difficult temptation can be a challenge.

Recently I was in Baltimore for the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and I heard James Martin, SJ speaking about Jesus humanity, as he often does. Jesus, Fr. Martin reminded us, felt all the things that we feel, from nausea to annoyance, from exhaustion to being achy, and everything in between. Those are my words, not his, but you get the idea. Today we are clearly reminded of Jesus’ human state in the Gospel, but can we resist the temptation to dismiss Jesus’ Continue reading