Daily Lenten Lessons

Lovingly crafted by Fr. Mike Rasicci


Palm Sunday - Mar 24

“For the Church, the many abuses of human life, liberty and dignity are a heartfelt suffering. The Church, entrusted with the earth’s glory, believes that in each person is the Creator’s image and that everyone who tramples it offends God. As the holy defender of God’s rights and of God’s images, the Church must cry out. It takes as spittle in its face, as lashes on its back, as the cross in its passion, all that human beings suffer, even though they be unbelievers. They suffer as God’s images. There is no dichotomy between humans and God’s image. Whoever tortures a human being, whoever abuses a human being, whoever outrages a human being abuses God’s image, and the Church takes as its own that cross, that martyrdom.” [Sourcebook for Lent II, p 179. Note: Archbishop Romero, cited above, was murdered by a right-wing military assassin as he preached at a weekday Mass in a hospital chapel. It happened on this very date, March 24, in 1980].
Fr. Mike

Sunday - Mar 10

“Laetare Sunday” “Rose Sunday in Lent” “Refreshment Sunday” “This Sunday is a festival of spring. At least it was so in the early Church. In olden times the first roses were brought to church for a blessing on this Sunday [In Mediterranean lands spring comes much earlier].” [Fr. Pius Parsch]
“A Christian Lent can never be entirely sad. With the fourth Sunday the pent up spiritual joy in the true member of Christ bursts forth in anticipation of the Easter joy to come…This was the day when the catechumens [those unbaptized adults and older children who were being prepared by stages to be baptized at the Great Vigil of Easter] were decked with roses and when roses were mutually exchanged. Thence comes the custom of the rose vestment.” [Fr Virgil Michel, OSB] “Bright sadness is the true message of and gift of Lent. Little by little we begin to understand, or rather to feel, that the sadness of Lent is indeed bright that a mysterious transformation is about to take place in us.” [Fr. Alexander Schmemann] [Op. cit., pp 51 & 53]

Tuesday - Mar 19

“O You who know us through and through, we languish in our wickedness, for sin has drugged our hearts. In your love for humankind, O Lord, heal our wounds and save us.” [Byzantine Prayer, quoted in “Sourcebook for Lent II,” page 140] We pray that the Lord will give us sobriety during the remainder of Lent, freeing us from the intoxication of sin, which all too easily we inhale and inbibe, because we are surrounded by it. “Sinners Anonymous”, anyone?
Fr. Mike

Wednesday - Mar 20

“Come, my LIght, and illumine my darkness. Come, my Life, and revive me from death. Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds. Come, Flame of divine love, and burn up the thorns of my sins, kindling my heart with the flame of thy love.” [St. Dimitrii of Rostov, 17th Century in “Sourcebook for Lent II,” p 144]
Fr. Mike

Thursday - Mar 21

“Love is not a cultural nicety; it does not ratify one’s desire; nor does it make one fit in or feel good. Love is God’s self-communication through Jesus, the Word made flesh; and in human affaris, love is the absolute will that calls forth each person to God. Love reveals the individual’s duty that furthers the divine plan for all creation. This “winter will,” plain and perennially out of season to tepid human expectation, cuts and burns to prepare for the glory to come.” [Richard Giannone, “Sourcebook for Lent II”, p 150]
Fr. Mike

Friday - Mar 22

“O tough and steely hearts! O hearts more hard than flint or other stone! O great unthankfulness that removes us so far away from God that it is a marvel above all marvels that God looks so far down upon such extreme ingratitude!” [St. John Fisher, 16th Century English Martyr, in Sourcebook for Lent II, p 157]
Fr. Mike

Saturday, Mar 23

“We do not celebrate merely a Christ who rose without us. During Lent, we are empowerd to rise with him to a new life — to become precisely those new people needed today in our country. We should not just seek changes because new structures are worth nothing when there are no new people to manage them and live in them.” [Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, in Sourcebook for Lent II, p 170]
Fr. Mike


Sunday - Mar 3

“God of compassion, go before us always; source of all goodness, make our lives good, and, as you have called us to break bread with Christ, keep us in the fellowship of those who are dedicated to your will; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen” [Prayer over the Gifts, “Celebrating the Christian Year, Volume II: Lent, Holy Week and Easter”, p 45]. As we “break bread with Christ” today, pray for the grace never to be an obstacle to another person’s desire to follow Jesus. Those who prefer not to follow the Commandments, or to refuse to acknowledge them and God’s right to tell us how to live and behave, are those very obstacles; we think that we know better than God [which is what God Adam and Eve into trouble in the first place!]. And let us pray for the grace, as in the prayer, to be “in the fellowship of those who are dedicated to [God’s] will.”

Monday - Mar 4

The Eucharistic readings for today deal with the cure of the leprosy of the great general Naaman the Syrian, the story itself and Jesus’s referring to it in the Gospel. When God intrudes into our lives, he does so because he has more for us than we can imagine for ourselves. Naaman was mad because the Prophet Elisha told him to do something simple; Jesus incurred the wrath of the people at home because he challenged their beliefs about whom was worthy of God’s mercy and love. I suggest a brutally honest assessment of ourselves: If we are sincere and serious in our prayers, if we really want to serve the Lord, our response needs to be a willingness to do what he asks, even if it’s simple or seems foolish. And it means that we need to pray in quiet, to be still and “know that [God] is God.”

Tuesday - Mar 5

Read Daniel 3:25,34-43, “The Prayer of Azariah.” [Note: If you don’t have those verses in your Bible, look in the Old Testament Apocrypha for the ‘Greek additions to the Book of Daniel’] “We’ve all been ‘in the fire’ at one time or another—difficult times that make us realize we don’t have the strength, energy, or power to help ourselves, never mind offer anything to the Lord. We may struggle to worship him the way we did in better times. We can only come to God, as these men did, and offer him a contrite heart and a humble spirit The good news is…God knows that when…we are at the end of our rope, we are able to see ourselves as we truly are: totally dependent on God…Whether or not you’re in a white-hot furnace to today , offer yourself to the Lord with a contrite heart and humble spirit. Do this every day, and trust God to do his work in you.” [The Word Among Us, Lent 2024, p 42]

Wednesday - Mar 6

“…[W]ho was the Giver of all the gifts that make human beings superior to other creatures? Was it not God, whose first request of us now is that we should show generosity in return? Having already received so much from God and hoping for so much more, we should surely be ashamed to refuse God the one thing asked of us, which is to show generosity to others When our Lord and God is not ashamed to be called our Father, can we repudiate our own kith and kin?” [St. Gregory Nazianzus, 4 th Century]
Fr. Mike

Thursday - Mar 7

This date is special to me. My grandfather Alfonso Rasicci died on this day in 1981; my grandmother Luigia Rasicci died on this day in 1989. They both held and still hold a special place in my heart. I appreciate the memories and what I learned from them in silence, in prayer. So, I share these few words today: “Enter into the mystery of silence. Your goal in life is not to hold your tongue but to love, to know yourself and to receive your God. You need to learn how to listen, how to retreat into the depths, how to rise above yourself…Silence leads you to all this…Authentic silence is the gateway to peace, adoration and love. Live your silence, don’t merely endure it… “You know that good makes no noise and noise does no good. In the common life calm is necessary for the brothers and sisters who are praying, reading and writing, or at night, resting. For love, then, watch your step, our work, your greetings and your speech. Silence too is charity.” [Pierre-Marie Delfieux – Sourcebook for Lent, Book Two, Chicago: LTP, 1990, pp 18-19]
Fr. Mike

Friday - Mar 8

Read Hosea 14:2-10. “Take with you words and return to the Lord” [Hosea 14:3]. “God doesn’t want [us] to wallow in guilt, just as he didn’t want the Israelites to be lost in their sin. He doesn’t want to burden [us] with shame; he wants to set [us] free so that [we] can live as the beloved children you and I truly are…Holy Spirit, help us to speak words of truth and humility and love as we confess our sins.” [The Word Among Us, Lent 2024, p 45] “You can’t conceive, my child, nor can I or anyone, the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God.” [Graham Greene, Sourcebook for Lent, Book Two, Chicago: LTP, 1990, p 32]
Fr. Mike

Saturday - Mar 9

“Mercy is to fasting as rain is to the earth. However much you may cultivate your heart, clear the soil of your nature, root out your vices and sow virtues, if you do not release the springs of mercy, your fasting will not bear fruit…So do not lose by saving, but gather in by scattering.” [St. Peter Chrysologus, Fifth Century; op. cit., p 36]


Sunday - Feb 18

James Healy writes, “Whether we gaze with longing into the garden or with fear and trembling into the desert, of this we can be sure—God walked there first! And when we who have sinned and despoiled the garden are challenged now to face the desert, we do not face it alone; Jesus has gone there before us to struggle with every demon that has ever plagued a human heart. Face the desert we must if we would reach the garden, but Jesus has gone there before us” [“A Lent Sourcebook,” Book 1, page 68. Chicago: LTP, 1990].

Monday - Feb 19

“Let us fast in such a way that we lavish our lunches upon the poor, so that we may not store up in our purses what we intended to eat, but rather in the stomach of the poor.” – [St. Caesarius of Arles, 6th Century]

Tuesday - Feb 20

“Take away, O Lord, the veil of my heart while I read the Scriptures.” [Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop, 16th Century] “Those who pray as well as work at the tasks they must do, and combine their prayer with suitable activity, will be praying always. That is the only way in which it is possible never to stop praying.” [Origen, Priest, 3rd Century]

Wednesday - Feb 21

“Christian asceticism is a fight, not against but for the body. For this reason, the whole person—soul and body—repents. The body participates in the prayer of the soul just as the soul prays through and in the body. Prostrations, the psychosomatic sign of repentance and humility, of adoration and obedience, are thus the Lenten rite par excellence.” [Rev. Dr. Alexander Schmemann]

Friday - Feb 23

“If a poor man or a poor woman comes, whether they are from your own parish or another, especially if they are advanced in years, and there should be no room for them, then make a place for them, O bishop, with all your heart, even if you yourself have to sit on the ground.” [From, ‘Didascalia Apostolorum’, 3 rd Century, from “Lent – Book One,” LTP, Chicago, 1990, p 111]

Saturday - Febr 24

“Peace between neighbors, Peace between kindred, Peace between lovers, in the love of the King of life. Peace between person and person, Peace between wife and husband, Peace between women and children, The peace of Christ above all peace. Bless, O Christ, mky face, Let my face bless everything; Bless, O Christ, mine eye, Let mine eye bless all it sees.” [Celtic Blessing, op. cit., p 121]


Sunday - Feb 25

“Jesus puts two options before his followers: Selfishly hold onto one’s life and ultimately become ashamed before God or give up one’s life on a cross and presently suffer the shame that came with doing so. In his time, this was a radical and challenging call – to be willing to be viewed as weak, despised by the dominant culture.” [Dan Dzikowicz, “Treasure,” page 10]

Monday - Feb 26

“In this world suffering and disease are indeed ‘normal,’ but their very ‘normalcy’ is abnormal. They reveal the ultimate and permanent defeat of life, a defeat which no partial victories of medicine, however wonderful and truly miraculous, can ultimately overcome. But in Christ suffering is not ‘removed’; it is transformed into victory. The defeat itself becomes victory, a way, an entrance into the Kingdom, and this is the only true healing.” [Schmemann, op. cit., p 151]

Tuesday - Feb 27

“Now we can understand why the Church has at heart to cleanse herself from the filth that adheres to her garment from the sins of Christians. The soap, the lye and the broom used by the Church for this cleansing process is fasting. The dust and dirt accumulated over winter have to be routed. Outside in the gardens, now at the coming of spring, leaves and dry grass have to be raked together and burned. Now in the time of Lent, Mother Church, too, like the housewife and the gardener, is determined to burn up and to rout the dust and trash of our sins. The means she employs are fasting, mortification, abstinence, and self-conquest.” [Pius Parsch, op. cit., p 154]. Have you ever thought that your personal sins, small or great, are like “dust and trash” that stain the Church’s life?

Wednesday - Feb 28

“I’ve been doing some hard travelin’, I thought you knowed. I’ve been doing some hard travelin’ way down the road. Well, if you don’t think I’ve been through hell, just follow me down to the places I’ve been. I’ve been doing some hard travelin’.” [Woody Guthrie, op. cit., p 168] “Lord God, you offer to us this ‘acceptable time’ to recover a sense of what life means and to be reconciled to you and to our neighbor: Grant that we may walk together, day by day, in the footsteps of Christ toward the paschal feast of joy.” [Italian Sacramentary, op. cit., p 169]

Thursday - Feb 29

“The people of India tell us that by fasting we learn compassion. Lanza del Vasto, Gandhi’s favorite European disciple, writes: ‘Those who are unwilling to let love of neighbor consume them are destined to stuff themselves with fine foods.’ At bottom, Christian fasting represents a serious effort to enter into the suffering death of Christ so as to share more fully in his Easter life.” [Balthasar Fischer, op. cit., p 174]

Friday - Mar 1

“The purpose of the first part of Lent is to bring us to compunction. ‘Compunction’ is etymologically related to the verb, ‘to puncture’ and suggests the deflation of our inflated egos, a challenge to any self-deceit about the quality of our lives as disciples of Jesus. By hitting us again and again with demands which we not only fail to obey, but which we come to recognize as being quite beyond us, the Gospel passages are meant to trouble us, to confront our illusions about ourselves. ‘Remember, you are dust…’ From this perspective, Lenten penance may be more effective if we fail in our resolutions than if we succeed, for its purpose is not to confirm us in our sense of virtue but to bring home to us our radical need of salvation.” [Mark Searle, op. cit., p 189]

Saturday - Mar 2

“The reason I have told you this ‘Parable of the Prodigal Son,’ is so that you will understand that even sins committed after baptism can be forgiven if we face up to them. I do not say this to encourage indolence but to save you from despair.” [St. John Chrysostom, 4 th Century, op. cit., p 193] “Every one of us has a swine in our souls…One’s job can be ‘herding swine’ if one has no other aim than to earn a living joylessly; it can be something completely different, but one has to return to the Father for that.” [Jacques LeClercq, op. cit., pp 191,194]

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