"He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him" (Isaiah 53:2). Sacrifice has no beauty; it holds no attraction. Sacrifice is Christ who suffers and dies. He is the meaning of our life. Our entire life is in view of something greater: God. We live for you, O Christ, whose face we seek." ~Fr. Luigi Giussani
O Christ ever greater, may we always seek Your face, whether it be covered with spittle and blood or radiant with risen glory. Amen.
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Monday, March 30, 2015
And being found in human form he humbled himself
and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.
When Jesus sent two disciples to fetch a donkey’s colt on Palm Sunday, they had no other task in the whole world more important than fetching it. If someone had said to them, “You are called to greater things; anyone can fetch a donkey,” and they had not done it, they would have been disobedient. But there was nothing greater for them at that moment than to fetch the donkey for Christ. I wish that we all might do every task, great or small, in this obedience. There is nothing greater than obedience to Christ. ~J. Heinrich Arnold, Discipleship: Living for Christ in the Daily Grind
O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, teach us Your obedience, teach us Your love. Amen.
Sunday, March 29, 2015
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. ~Mark 11:9
When Jesus entered Jerusalem like a triumphant conqueror, many were astonished at the majesty of his bearing; but when a short while afterward he entered upon his passion, his appearance was ignoble, an object of derision.
If today’s procession and passion are considered together, in the one Jesus appears as sublime and glorious, in the other as lowly and suffering. The procession makes us think of the honor reserved for a king, whereas the passion shows us the punishment due to a thief.
In the one Jesus is surrounded by glory and honor, in the other “he has neither dignity nor beauty.” In the one he is the joy of all and the glory of the people, in the other “the butt of men and the laughing stock of the people.”
In the one he receives the acclamation: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes as the king of Israel”; in the other there are shouts that he is guilty of death and he is reviled for having set himself up as king of Israel.
In the procession the people meet Jesus with palm branches, in the passion they slap him in the face and strike his head with a rod. In the one they extol him with praises, in the other they heap insults upon him.
In the one they compete to lay their clothes in his path, in the other he is stripped of his own clothes. In the one he is welcomed to Jerusalem as a just king and savior, in the other he is thrown out of the city as a criminal, condemned as an impostor.
In the one he is mounted on an ass and accorded every mark of honor; in the other he hangs on the wood of the cross, torn by whips, pierced with wounds, and abandoned by his own.
If, then, we want to follow our leader without stumbling through prosperity and through adversity, let us keep our eyes upon him, honored in the procession, undergoing ignominy and suffering in the passion, yet unshakably steadfast in all such changes of fortune.
Lord Jesus, you are the joy and salvation of the whole world; whether we see you seated on an ass or hanging on the cross, let each one of us bless and praise you, so that when we see you reigning on high we may praise you forever and ever, for to you belong praise and honor throughout all ages. Amen.
~Guerric of Igny, c. 1070/80-1157
Saturday, March 28, 2015
O Lord, You called the hour of Your Passion "Your hour," the hour for which You had come, the hour You welcomed with all Your desires. When a great or even a very small sacrifice presents itself to me, I want to think quickly that this is "my hour," the hour in which I can give a proof of my love to You, who have loved me "exceedingly." ~Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity, O.C.D.
My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. ~John 7:6
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, not even if your whole world seems upset. If you find that you have wandered away from the shelter of God, lead your heart back to Him quietly and simply. ~St. Francis de Sales
If you return and be quiet, you shall be saved: in silence and in hope shall your strength be. ~Isaiah 30:15
Monday, March 9, 2015
"The day -- Your day -- is coming,
when everything again begins to blossom.
And when your right hand has led us back to the way,
may we too rejoice on that day.
May the world that You constructed humbly adore You, merciful Trinity,
and may we, renewed by grace, sing a new hymn of praise.
Hymn for Lauds, Season of Lent
Sunday, March 8, 2015
Stop making my Father's house a marketplace. ~John 2:16
“God’s temple is holy,” and you are that temple: all you who believe in Christ and whose belief makes you love him.
Real belief in Christ means love of Christ: it is not the belief of the demons who believed without loving and therefore despite their belief said: “What do you want with us, Son of God?”
No; let our belief be full of love for him we believe in, so that instead of saying: “What do you want with us,” we may rather say: "We belong to you, you have redeemed us."
All who believe in this way are like the living stones which go to build God’s temple, and like the rot-proof timber used in the framework of the ark which the flood waters could not submerge. It is in this temple, that is, in ourselves, that prayer is addressed to God and heard by him.
Our Lord’s driving out of the temple people who were seeking their own ends, who came to the temple to buy and sell, is symbolic. For if that temple was a symbol it obviously follows that the body of Christ, the true temple of which the other was an image, has within it some who are buyers and sellers, or in other words, people who are seeking their own interests and not those of Jesus Christ.
But the temple was not destroyed by the people who wanted to turn the house of God into a den of thieves, and neither will those who live evil lives in the Catholic Church and do all they can to convert God’s house into a robber’s den succeed in destroying the temple. The time will come when they will be driven out by a whip made of their own sins.
The temple of God, this body of Christ, this assembly of believers, has but one voice, and sings the psalms as though it were but one person. If we wish, it is our voice; if we wish, we may listen to the singer with our ears and ourselves sing in our hearts. But if we choose not to do so it will mean that we are like buyers and sellers, preoccupied with our own interests.
~St. Augustine of Hippo, 354-430
Dear Jesus, help me, please! Drive out the buyers and sellers within me, for they are many. Transform me into a true adorer such as the Father seeks, one whom worships Him in spirit and in truth, a living sacrifice of praise consumed by zeal and love for Him alone. Amen.
Saturday, March 7, 2015
Be kind to one another. ~Ephesians 4:32
Kindness has converted more people than zeal, science, or eloquence.
~Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
Always try to be a little kinder than necessary.
~J. M. Barrie
Friday, March 6, 2015
Let us also go, that we may die with him. ~John 11:16
Jesus' sorrowful journey, the Via Crucis, the Way of the Cross, is a precious reminder to us to recognize the value of our daily suffering; a lesson not to avoid it with opportunistic pretexts or vain excuses; an impetus to make of it instead a gift to him who loved us, in the certainty that in this way we will build a new culture of love and cooperate in the divine work of salvation.
May Mary, who with the other women, followed Jesus on the way of the Cross, and whom we will find on Calvary, be for us a model in this gift of ourselves: may she help us to understand the value of our suffering and offer it to the Father joined with Christ's suffering.
~St. John Paul II
Dear Jesus, my Crucified Lord and Savior, forgive me my wasted suffering. Amen.
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Thy will be done. ~Matthew 6:10
The best form of mortification is to accept with all our heart, in spite of our repugnance, all that God sends or permits, good and evil, joy and suffering. I try to do this. Let us try to do it together and to help one another to reach that absolute abandonment into the hands of God. ~Abbot Columba Marmion
Dear Lord, help me to make the most of the opportunities for mortification that you will give me today.
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Then Jesus said to his disciples: If any man will come after me,
let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
There is nothing picturesque about penance... In deciding to undertake a way of penance a man must know that he is leaving glamour behind him, that his motive must be to please God, that he will be called upon to bear crosses of a quite different shape from those he bargained for, and that the really effective part of it will be not what he does in the way of self-denial but what God does in the way of reproducing the Passion in the setting of his everyday life. Thus the introduction to penance is to be severely objective, realist, unemotional... True penance is self-forgetting in the further effort to remember only God.... There is only one approach to penance, and that is the way of complete surrender to the will of God. ~Dom Hubert van Zeller, Approach to Penance
O dear Lord Jesus, grant me the courage and the love to follow You.
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
"Who when He was reviled did not revile." ~1 Peter 2
Do I pray for grace to forgive what I cannot forget?
Do I practice self-control when I feel hurt?
Do I try to accept bitterness of speech with sweetness?
Do I make allowance for mistakes and misunderstanding, and strive to accommodate myself to those of a different character from my own?
Am I too exacting?
Am I ready to make sacrifices for the sake of peace?
Am I as quick to find excuses for others as for myself?
Am I royally merciful towards those I dislike, or who dislike me?
Do I make others impatient by contradiction?
Do I check in myself the spirit of criticism?
~Mother Mary Loyola, Hail! Full of Grace, "The Crowning with Thorns"
O King of Love and mercy,
reviled and put to scorn,
reviled and put to scorn,
teach my Thy humble ways!
Monday, March 2, 2015
Christians must lean on the Cross of Christ just as travelers lean on a staff when they begin a long journey. They must have the Passion of Christ deeply embedded in their minds and hearts, because only from it can they derive peace, grace, and truth. ~St. Anthony of Padua
Thy rod and thy staff, they have comforted me. ~Psalm 23:4
Sunday, March 1, 2015
This is my beloved Son. Listen to him. ~Mark 9:7
The apostles knew that Jesus was a man; they did not know that he was God. To their knowledge he was the son of Mary, a man who shared their daily life in this world. On the mountain he revealed to them that he was the Son of God, that he was in fact God himself.
Peter, James, and John were familiar with the sight of their master eating and drinking, working and taking rest, growing tired and falling asleep, experiencing fear and breaking out in sweat. All these things were natural to his humanity, not to his divinity.
He took them up onto the mountain in order to show them his kingship before they witnessed his passion, to let them see his mighty power before they watched his death, to reveal his glory to them before they beheld his humiliation.
Then when the Jews took him captive and condemned him to the cross, the apostles would understand that it was not for any lack of power on his part that Jesus allowed himself to be crucified by his enemies, but because he had freely chosen to suffer in that way for the world’s salvation.
He took them up onto the mountain before his resurrection and showed them the glory of his divinity, so that when he rose from the dead in that same divine glory they would realize that this was not something given him as a reward for his labor, as if he were previously without it.
That glory had been his with the Father from all eternity, as is clear from his words on approaching his freely chosen passion: “Father, glorify me now with the glory I had with you before the world was made.”
~St. Ephrem, c. 306-73
who hast commanded us
to listen to your beloved Son,
be pleased, we pray,
to nourish us inwardly by your word,
that, with spiritual sight made pure,
we may rejoice to behold your glory.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
~Collect, 2nd Sunday of Lent