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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Look for your Spiritual Resources: The First Sunday in Lent 2020

    Look for your Spiritual Resources:
The First Sunday in Lent 2020
www.johnpredmoresj.com  | predmore.blogspot.com
predmoresj@yahoo.com | 617.510.9673
March 1, 2020
Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7; Psalm 51; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11

You will not find me using, but this once, an overused word in our religious vocabulary - sin. Yes, it is part of our life and it is helpful to acknowledge it, and yet we can look for other ways to express what we are going through – we suffer, we seek to reconcile, we look to live in right relations, we strive to make amends, we want harmony and peace. That word I won’t speak has been used to make us feel bad, to keep us in line, or ‘to pray, pay, and obey,’ or it can be used to affect our self-image. We define our relationship with God in relation to that word, and there is far more to our state of being than that word. A friendship with God is a more helpful construct.

Think for instance of the Gospel passage. Most people see it that Jesus was tempted by Satan three times in the desert and because he was strong of will, he was able to see clearly the designs of Satan and he withstood the challenge. This is true. We are told that we have to imitate the strength and conviction of Jesus, and if we cannot do that, we don’t view ourselves as very faithful people. We can also add that Jesus was never alone and he relied upon his spiritual resources to get him through his most vulnerable times. The Spirit of God led Jesus into the desert. The Spirit was there to help Jesus and to provide for him everything that he needed in his vulnerabilities. When the trials were over, the angels and the Spirit were there to minister to his needs.

We try to replicate this passage in our lives and hold onto our human strength as Jesus did, but we have more resources available than he had. First, we have him. He is alive to us and is doing all that he can to guide us through life. Lent is not being separated from him. Lent is about relying upon him more. Then, we have the Spirit, the angels, the communion of saints, and we have each other, and if we let people know what we need, our loved ones will help us.

It is true that we face similar temptations that Jesus faced – honors, riches, and human glory and power. Sometimes, we even crave those as a measure of our self-worth or as a solution to our problems. They validate and confirm us. Satan attacks our strengths, not our weaknesses, because in our weaknesses, we rely upon God. When we are strong, we do not need God.
Our Lenten practices of increased prayer, fasting, and almsgiving keep us from being too focused upon ourselves and returns us to being ‘a people with and for others.’ It connects us more fully to God. It helps us to define our relationship with God in many dimensions. We hurt that relationship when we fail to even bother to love the one who is in need, and Lent gives us the courage and energy, with God and other many spiritual resources at our disposal, to reconcile, to unite, to restore what was once lost, and to live in the joy that we are very good people who just need guidance and encouragement.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Leviticus 19) The Lord gives Moses ten commandments that he inscribes on stone tablets.

Tuesday: (Isaiah 55) God’s word will issue forth from his mouth and shall not return until it has fulfilled his will.

Wednesday: (Jonah 3) Jonah set out to Nineveh asking them to proclaim a fast and then repent. The king does repent and the Lord dropped his threat because they turned from evil.

Thursday: (Esther 3) Queen Esther appeals to God for help in converting the king’s heart for hatred of the enemy that threatens them.

Friday: (Ezekiel 18) If the wicked turns from sinfulness and keeps the Lord’s statutes, he will surely live. Likewise, if a virtuous man becomes wicked, he shall die.

Saturday: (Deuteronomy 26) Moses tells the people to observe the Lord’s statutes and decrees with their whole heart and soul. The Lord will stand by you.

Monday: (Matthew 25) Jesus tells his disciples about the last judgment when the goats and sheep will be separated. The measuring stick is the mercy shown to the most vulnerable.

Tuesday: (Matthew 6) The disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray. He tells them not to pray like the pagans, who seek honor and glory, and then gives them the Lord’s prayer.

Wednesday: (Luke 11) Jesus chastises the crowd that seeks a sign, but none will be given to them. Because of Jonah’s preaching, the king and people repented.

Thursday: (Matthew 7) Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened. The Father is generous, especially to those who love him.

Friday: (Matthew 5) Your righteousness must surpass the levels of the scribes and Pharisees in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Show righteousness by quickly settling disputes.

Saturday: (Matthew 5) Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Heavenly Father. Be perfect as the Father is perfect.

Saints of the Week

March 1: Katherine Drexel (1858-1955), was from a wealthy Philadelphian banking family and she and her two sisters inherited a great sum of money when her parents died. She joined the Sisters of Mercy and wanted to found her own order called the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to work among the African and Native Americans. Her inheritance funded schools and missions throughout the South and on reservations. A heart attack in 1935 sent her into retirement.

March 7: Perpetua and Felicity (d. 203), were two catechumens arrest and killed during a persecution in North Africa. Perpetua was a young noblewoman who was killed alongside her husband, their young son, and their pregnant slave, Felicity. They were baptized while under arrest and would not renounce their faith. Felicity was excused from death because it was unlawful to kill a pregnant woman, but she gave birth prematurely three days before the planned execution. They were flogged, taunted by wild beasts, and then beheaded. They appear in the First Eucharistic Prayer.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Mar 1, 1549. At Gandia, the opening of a college of the Society founded by St Francis Borgia.
·      Mar 2, 1606. The martyrdom in the Tower of London of St Nicholas Owen, a brother nicknamed "Little John." For 26 years he constructed hiding places for priests in homes throughout England. Despite severe torture he never revealed the location of these safe places.
·      Mar 3, 1595. Clement VIII raised Fr. Robert Bellarmine to the Cardinalate, saying that the Church had not his equal in learning.
·      Mar 4, 1873. At Rome, the government officials presented themselves at the Professed House of the Gesu for the purpose of appropriating the greater part of the building.
·      Mar 5, 1887. At Rome, the obsequies of Fr. Beckx who died on the previous day. He was 91 years of age and had governed the Society as General for 34 years. He is buried at San Lorenzo in Campo Verano.
·      Mar 6, 1643. Arnauld, the Jansenist, published his famous tract against Frequent Communion. Fifteen French bishops gave it their approval, whereas the Jesuit fathers at once exposed the dangers in it.
·      Mar 7, 1581. The Fifth General Congregation of the Society bound the professors of the Society to adhere to the doctrine of St Thomas Aquinas.

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