Daily Lenten Lessons

Lovingly crafted by Fr. Mike Rasicci


Easter Sunday - Apr 09

St. Gregory of Nazianzus [d 389 CE]: [Celebrating the Seasons, p 225] “Yesterday I was crucified with Christ; today I am glorified with him. Yesterday I was dead with Christ; today I am sharing in his resurrections. Yesterday I was buried with him; today I am waking with him from the sleep of death.” St. John Chrysostom [d 407 CE]: An Easter Sermon [Op. Cit., p 226]”…O death, where is your sting? O hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are cast down. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns in freedom. Christ is risen and the grave is emptied of the dead. For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the first fruits of those who sleep. To him be the glory and dominion to the ages of ages. Amen.”

Holy Saturday - Apr 08

St. Ephrem of Syria [d 373 CE]: From a Homily on the Lord’s Death: [Celebrating the Seasons, pp 220-221] “We give glory to you, Lord, who raised us your cross to span the jaws of death like a bridge by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living. We give glory to you who put on the body of a single mortal and made it the source of life for every other mortal. You are incontestably alive. Your murderers sowed your living body in the earth as farmers sow grain, but it sprang up and yielded an abundant harvest of people raised from the dead. Come, then, my brothers and sisters, let us offer our Lord the great and all-embracing sacrifice of our love, pouring out our treasury of hymns and prayers before him who offered his cross of sacrifice to God for the enrichment of us all.”

Good Friday - Apr 07

St. Augustine of Hippo [d 430 CE]: From a Sermon on the Passion of Our Lord: [Celebrating the Seasons, pp 213-214]
“What God promises us for the future is great, but what God has already done for us in Christ is greater still. Who can doubt that he will give us his life, since he has already given us his death? Why is human weakness so slow to believe that we will one day live with God? After all, a much more incredible thing has already happened: God died for us…In this way Christ secured a wonderful transaction, a transaction of mutual sharing. He died from what was ours; we will live from what is his…Christ loved us so much that what we deserved because of sin, he who was without sin, suffered on our behalf. Surely, then, he who justifies sinners will give us what justice demands. He whose promise is faithful will give us the rewards of his saints, since though without wickedness himself he bore the punishment of the wicked…So, my brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge without fear, indeed, let us announce publicly that Christ was crucified for us. Let us proclaim it not trembling, but rejoicing; not shamefacedly, but boasting. As the apostle Paul said: ‘Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.’

Maundy Thursday – Apr 06

St. Ephrem of Syria [d 373 CE]: “Hymn on the Crucifixion” [Celebrating the Seasons, p 211] “Blessed are you, Upper Room, so small in comparison to the entirety of creation, yet what took place in you now fills all creation – which is even too small for it. Blessed is your abode, for in it was broken that Bread which issues from the blessed Wheat Sheaf, and in you was trodden out the Cluster of Grapes that came from Mary to become the Cup of Salvation.
“Blessed are you, O Upper Room, no one has ever seen nor ever shall see, what you beheld; Our Lord became at once True Altar, Priest, Bread, and Cup of Salvation. In his own person he could fulfil all these roles, none other was capable of this: Whole Offering and Lamb, Sacrifice and Sacrificer, Priest and the One destined to be consumed.”

Holy Wednesday - Apr 05

“Spy Wednesday” is the traditional name of this day of Holy Week, because the traditional Gospel reading is from John 13:21-32, focusing on verse 30: “So, after receiving the piece of bread, Judas immediately went out. AND IT WAS NIGHT.” Judas leaves the presence of the Light of the World to put in the “fix” to hand over Jesus. Judas goes into the dark, and sadly stays in the dark, despondent, depressed, and hangs himself. He could find no way to forgive himself for what he did, and in that same evil pride would not seek Jesus’s forgiveness. Much is made of Judas’s “fate”: Did he really have a choice, or was it always going to be his “destiny” to be the traitor? Suffice it to say that he betrayed Jesus; Peter denied him three times; the rest of the Apostles and disciples ran off and hid themselves. Everyone except for Judas and Peter were passive actors: What they thought or anything they may have said is lost to history, but what they did continues in us, each time we fail to defend our faith, each time we bend or fold when we have a chance to share our faith or even to challenge our own families on their turning their backs on the Lord, giving up or neglecting to worship, abandoning the Church; when we are too easily persuaded to “keep our religion to ourselves.” True, we haven’t become traitors like Judas or deniers like Peter, but we still hold ourselves out and away so that we can “go along to get along.” If you find yourself in that description, ask the Lord’s forgiveness and be prepared to receive the absolution of your sins on Maundy Thursday, to enter the Sacred Triduum with joy, hope, peace and love.

Holy Tuesday - Apr 04

“We imitate Christ’s death by being buried with him in baptism. If we ask what this kind of burial means and what benefit we may hope to derive from it, it means first all making a complete break with our former way of life, and our Lord himself said that this cannot be done unless we are born again. In other words, we have to begin a new life, and we cannot do so until our previous life has been brought to an end. When runners reach the turning point on a racecourse, they have to pause briefly before they can go back in the opposite directions. So also when we wish to reverse the direction of our lives there must be a pause, or a death, to make the end of one life and beginning of another.” (From a treatise ‘On the Holy Spirit’ by St. Basil the Great [d. 379 CE], p 207, Op. Cit.). We prepare to renew our Baptismal Covenant at the Great Vigil or on Easter Day, hoping that our Lent was well spent in preparing us again to say, “Yes!” again to Christ and to follow Christ faithfully in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Holy Monday - Apr 03

“The cross used to denote punishment but it has now become a focus of glory. It was formerly a symbol of condemnation but it is now seen as a principle of salvation…Thanks to the cross we are no longer wandering in the wilderness because we know the right road;…we are not afraid of the devil’s fiery darts because we have discovered the fountain…Thanks to the cross we are not afraid of the wolf because we have the Good Shepherd. Thanks to the cross we dread no usurper, since we are sitting beside the King…That is why we keep festival as we celebrate the memory of the cross. St. Paul himself invites us to this festival in honor of the cross: ‘Let us celebrate the feast not with the old leaven, that of corruption and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.’ And he tells us why, saying: ‘Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us.’” – From a homily of St. John Chrysosotom, [d. 407 CE], pp 205-206, “Celebrating the Seasons – Daily Spiritual Readings for the Christian Year.”

Palm Sunday - Apr 02

Read Matthew 21:1-11 & Matthew 26:14-27:66 From, “The Word Among Us, Lent 2023”, p 61: “Who is this, who enters the holy city ‘meek and riding on an ass?” [Matthew 21:5]. “Who is this, who consecrates bread and wine so that it becomes his Body and Blood and then offers himself for our forgiveness?” [Matthew 26:27-28]. “Who is this, who in the Garden of Gethsemane prays to his Father, ‘Let this cup pass from me’, and then surrenders to his Father’s will?” [Matthew 26:39]. “Who is this, who refused to defend himself when accused of blasphemy?” [Matthew 26:63-65]. “Who is this, who is mocked and spat upon and hailed as ‘King of the Jews’”? [Matthew 27:29] “Who is this, who is beaten, whipped, and crucified, and who cries out and then gives up his spirit”? Matthew 27:46-50] “Who is this, whose battered body is laid in a tomb”? [Matthew 27:60] “Jesus, as we begin this Holy Week, may we come to know you ever more deeply”, and begin to understand how much you love us and the whole world.


Sat - Mar 25

Today is March 25, and because of where we are in Lent, we celebrate the Annunciation of Our Lord to the Blessed Virgin Mary. [Start your Christmas shopping – you only have nine months!] In the midst of all the Lenten disciplines and reflections, we have a welcome reminder of how we human beings were called in to make the will of God concrete, for our reconciliation to God and our salvation from the power of sin, suffering and death itself. One of ours said, “Yes,” Mary, the Virgin Daughter of Zion, as she’s called, said “Yes,” and our Salvation came into the world. It’s a good reminder to have the Incarnation of Our Lord fall during our preparation to remember his death and resurrection: The true humanity of Christ will be on full display as he goes from arrest to torture and finally to crucifixion, knowing not only the fullness of human suffering, but also the moral pain of being abandoned by nearly everyone who was following him. Mary his mother, the Mother of God, the “Theotokos” or “God bearer” gave him the humanity through which he saves and sanctifies us. Take a few minutes today to say a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the life, love, mercy, salvation, hope, joy and peace that are yours already because of Jesus’s life, death, resurrection. “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

Fri - Mar 24

Psalm 34:15-22. I focus on verses 17-18, 22: “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit…The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.” On this Lenten day, the Church remembers St. Oscar Romero and the Martyrs of El Salvador. In my office there’s a Salvadoran cross on the south wall right above the Icon of St. Oscar. That cross was touched to the tomb of the saintly archbishop by a work friend of mine who visited there, more than 22 years ago. I was about two months away from ordination to the priesthood when he was killed by an army assassin as he was finishing his homily in the hospital chapel where he was celebrating Mass for some religious sisters and others. It was the Vigil of the Annunciation, March 24. His funeral Mass was held in the square of the Cathedral of San Salvador, out of doors, on Palm Sunday, and towards the end, violence was incited by the paramilitary group responsible for the death of the archbishop, and for the deaths of countless others. I remember watching it live on TV; I even recognized a bishop I knew who was running for cover like everyone else. Verse 17 doesn’t seem to apply, does it – “When the righteous cry for help the Lord hears and rescues them from all their troubles”? The consolation comes from the awareness of God’s deliverance and mercy, in verse 22: “…none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.” I share this because it makes the mystery of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection real: “None of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.” No one who takes refuge in Christ’s death and resurrection through baptism and a life lived with God’s grace in faith will know condemnation, but rather have the light of life.

Thur - Mar 23

Take a quick look at Exodus 32:7-14. God is angry with the People because they decided to make gods for themselves to worship. Moses is dispatched by Yahweh to go down the mountain and to confront the people; God’s so angry that he won’t even accept that He led the people out of Egypt: “…Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely…” Moses “persuades” God to calm down; God intended to wipe out the Chosen People and start over again with Moses. Moses points out that wouldn’t make God look good to anyone, ever. Jesus showed anger a couple of times in the Gospels, and expressed his frustration with the Apostles and disciples. But like God the Father, rather than invoke wrath, or an army of angels to wipe out the enemies of His mission, He chose to love us to the end, all the way to the Cross. We are reminded that God is ultimately compassionate and merciful, slow to anger and great in love and gentleness towards us. Our challenge is to allow those sentiments of the Heart of Jesus to grow in us. The Lord knows that we can be as angry as He was at the people, as frustrated with those around us as Jesus was with the Apostles and disciples. St. Paul says, “Where sin abounded, grace did more abound.” Grace is God’s unmerited favor, so, let’s pray for that grace to look on those who have harmed us by thought, word or deed, with the same compassion with which Christ looks upon us, as God the Father did after Moses’s talk with him. If God can forgive, why can’t we? Pray for that grace today, several times several times.

Wed - Mar 22

We Christians enjoy what theologians call the “Scandal of Particularity.” That means that Jesus Christ makes claims about himself, such as we read in today’s Gospel, John 5:19-29. Throughout John’s Gospel, Jesus is making it clear, to anyone who listens, that the reason He came was to make us children of God, brothers and sisters for Him, to call us out of darkness into light, and to give us the power to love as he loves us even now. He says that He is “The Way, the Truth, and the Life…No one comes to the Father except through [Him]”. Other religions may make other claims, but our Christian Faith says plainly that Jesus is the one and only way to the life God has prepared for us. During the remainder of Lent, read through the Gospel of St. John, especially chapters 1, 3, 4, 6, 10, then 15 – 20. Note how often Jesus says who He is. As we’ll hear this coming Sunday in John 11, “Do you believe this – that I am the Resurrection and the Life?” And hopefully, our “Yes” to his question can mean a renewed and more hope-filled life.

Tue - Mar 21

John 5:1-12: “The point of Jesus’s question, ‘Do you want to be well?’ is to challenge us on whether we are as serious about overcoming our sin as He is…He does this because overcoming sin is both painful and humbling” [Harrold, “Journey through Lent” p 66]. To give up a pattern of sin can be painful: Perhaps it’s something that has given us comfort, pleasure, relief, escape from a problem bothering us. To walk away from it, to give it up, will be painful. To give up a pattern of sin can be humbling: We can’t do it without the Lord’s help, and we probably wouldn’t get to the point of asking for the grace without the Lord’s help. Don’t be afraid to “let go and let God” work in your life. Keep in mind these words of C.S. Lewis: “If God forgives us, we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it’s like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him” [From, ‘Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis’, cited in “C.S. Lewis’ Little Book of Wisdom,” p 270].

Mon - Mar 20

Isaiah 65:17-25, John 4:43-54 – The assigned readings for today take us to a challenging place: God’s healing will. But we know that we don’t always get what we pray for. So, how do we go about this? Clement Harrold in his book, “Journey through Lent,” shares these thoughts: “…the Old Testament passage speaks of a time and place when death will be overcome. This finds beautiful expression in today’s Gospel reading, when the royal official approaches Jesus and pleads, ‘Sir, come down before my child dies.’ …Like the royal official, we can and should pray for the physical healing of ourselves, our family members, and friends. Nevertheless, we know that physical suffering and death will continue to be features of this world for a little while yet. Much more importantly, therefore, we need to have faith that the same Jesus who gave physical life to the young boy in the Gospel can also work spiritual healing in our own hearts” [Harrold, p 64]

Sun - Mar 19

The “A” Cycle of Sunday Readings gives us John 9:1-41, the story of the “Man Born Blind.” Jesus makes him see for the first time. Imagine what that must have been for him to experience! But if you listen to or read the passage, you’ll see that as he grows in sight he also grows in faith and in love for Jesus, whom he defends later against the Pharisees! Verses 35-38 show the last encounter between him and Jesus: “Jesus heard that the Pharisees had driven the formerly blind man out, and when Jesus found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ And he answered, ‘And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, the one speaking with you now.’ And he worshiped him.” When those adults preparing for baptism hear this Gospel today and go through the next rite prepared for them, they confront their own spiritual blindness, perhaps something with them from the very beginning of their lives. Jesus wants to take away the blindness of prejudice, anger, resentment, hatred, truly everything that keeps us from being fully His. Ask yourselves today: What’s my “blindness,” my “Achilles’ heel?” Do I want the Lord to open my eyes? Do I want to deal with my friends and neighbors who might be surprised to hear me “singing a different tune?” It’s the gift that Lent offers us most especially, but Christ can open our eyes any time! We ask, indeed, we prayerfully beg our Lord to grant us the grace to fearlessly face those things which inhibit our growth in his love, to ask his forgiveness, and to live as his disciples.


Sat - Apr 1

Prayer after Holy Communion [From “Celebrating the Christian Year, Volume II”, p 61]: “With reverence we pray to you, O God, that as you nourish us with the communion of Christ’s Body and Blood, so you will make us partakers of the divine nature; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” When we were baptized, we became partakers of the divine nature; Christ Jesus, by the Holy Spirit, made us living members of His Body, the Church, and hence our life and even our nature have been changed. We are children of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, members of God’s family, forever. We can choose to disown our family, but neither God nor the rest of the family will ever disown us. We can be disciplined by the Church, corrected for our errant beliefs or sinful behavior, even excommunicated, which is intended to correct our disruptive behavior. But what the Lord gives us he does not remove from us. Today, on the cusp of Palm Sunday and Holy Week, give thanks to the Lord who endured the Cross and the grave, the pain and the humiliation of his passion and death, and just marvel at how the Creator of all, the Redeemer of the world, the “image of the invisible God, by whom and for whom all things were made”, has stooped low to love, serve and save YOU!

Fri - Mar 31

From, “The Word Among Us – Lent 2023”, Commentary for March 31, page 59: Jesus said, “Even if you do not believe me, believe in the works I do” [John 10:38]. “We have the benefit of knowing that Jesus, though crucified, has risen from the death. But there might be times when that knowledge doesn’t affect our day-to-day attitudes. When we’re going through difficulty, for instance, encouraging words my ring hollow and memories of God’s faithfulness might fade. We struggle to believe. That’s the time to fix our eyes on Jesus’s works, most specifically his resurrection. Because the resurrection is the culmination of all the mighty deeds Jesus performed in his lifetime. It provides the proof we can hang on to. It can help us to believe…Help me, Jesus, to believe that you are Lord and God, [my Lord and my God].”

Thur - Mar 30

From, “The Word Among Us – Lent 2023”, Commentary for March 30, page 58: Jesus said, “Whoever keeps my word will never see death” [John 8:51]. Ponder these words, especially if you have a hard time when Jesus speaks about living forever in the presence of death, such as in last Sunday’s Gospel from John 11:1 45. “On the day of our baptism, we were brought to share in Christ’s dying and all that he accomplished through hid death…United with Christ, we are given the grace to ‘keep his word’ and carry that word with us into heaven. DEATH IS NOT OUR FINAL DESTINY!…How richly our generous God blessed us on the day of our baptism! He has shared his own everlasting life with us! Jesus, thank you for uniting me with you on the day of my baptism. I look forward to living with you forever.”

Wed - Mar 29

Read: Daniel 3:14-20, 24-28
Some words of reflection from “Springtime of the Spirit,” by Fr. John D. Alexander: “…in 586 BCE, the Jewish people become subjects of a series of foreign overlords—Babylonian, Persian, Hellenistic Greek, and Roman. More and more, the chief religious problem is less the people’s disobedience to God…as the cost of obedience when foreign masters require the children of Israel to disregard their covenant with God, to disobey God’s laws, and to worship other gods…This wonderful Old Testament story of the three young men in the fiery furnace offers us the reassurance that although we may suffer terribly for our adherence to the faith in this life, Jesus will always walk with us through the fire. In Christ Jesus we have the promise of deliverance and vindication” [pp 11-113]. We need to be alert to the powers around us who try to persuade or convince us that our faith isn’t real or true or certainly not right. Some are expecting our religious freedoms to be curtailed, or even exclusion from exercising our rights and freedoms altogether. But no matter the case, rather than “go along to get along” we have to remember the Three Young Men in the fiery furnace, and even Daniel himself in the lions’ den, or Our Lord on the Cross and his holy, life-giving, death-trampling, Satan-spiting resurrection. That’s where we will find the strength of the Holy Spirit to persevere and not to count the cost.

Tue - Mar 28

From: Numbers 21:4-5
“4 From Mount Hor, Moses and all the people set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way.  5 The people spoke against God and against Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.’” “What have you done for me lately, God?” I think of that phrase every time I read this Hebrew Scripture passage. God had freed them after 400 years of exile, bondage and slavery in Egypt, intending to get them back to the land promised to their ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and that they lived in until Joseph was second to Pharoah in Egypt and delivered his father, his 11 brothers, their wives, children, servants, from famine. The settled in the land of Goshen, and lived there for several generations until life became too oppressive and God acted through Moses to liberate them. But all along the way for 40 years they complained, complained and complained some more! God gave them water from the rock, led them to springs of water at other times, fed them with manna in the morning and quail in the evening. Granted that it wasn’t exactly the most delicious cuisine, they had the provident hand of God taking care of them. But like people do, like we do, they got tired of the “same old, same old” and wanted a change. They were punished by fiery serpents, snakes that bit with a painful result that was fatal to some. God tells Moses what to do: Make a bronze serpent, mount it on a pole, and hold it before the people, and then they’ll be healed. Jesus is lifted up on the Cross for us, to be our healing from the “snake bite” of temptations of every kind, like anger uncontrolled and unjustified, prejudices towards other races or religions, selfishness with our resources, unwillingness to forgive or to seek forgiveness. The Lord is only too willing to forgive us when we sin and are sincerely sorry for what we’ve done or failed to do. In this Fifth Week of Lent, formerly called, “Passiontide”, we hear about all the ways that Christ will be led to suffer and die for us. And it wasn’t and isn’t once and done. He continues to forgive us, continues to feed us with his Body and Blood, with his Word. He continues to lead us on our pilgrimage through this life towards the kingdom of heaven. The Exodus we walk is as long as it takes to get to the kingdom of heaven. But we are asked to never, ever fall into the trap of saying, “What have you done for us lately, God?” If we do, let’s pray Psalm 130 and ask the Lord to once again forgive an ungrateful disciple, and to fill our hearts with love and gratitude for him.

Mon - Mar 27

Prayer after Holy Communion, from page 57, Celebrating the Christian Year – Volume II: “Strengthened by the blessing of your Sacraments we pray you, O God: That by these things we may be turned away from sin to follow the footsteps of Christ and walk in the ways of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” Let us ask the Lord that the fruit of our Sunday and/or weekday reception of Holy Communion be the strength for our conversion day by day through the week, so that we can “learn the ways of holiness and peace in the communion of [God’s] Church” [Op. Cit., p 57].

Sun - Mar 26

A few words on today’s Gospel, John 11:1-45:
From C.S. Lewis’s, “Mere Christianity”: ‘Christians believe that the living, dynamic activity of love has been going on in God forever and has created everything else. And that, by the way, is perhaps the most important difference between Christianity and all other religions: That in Christianity God is not an impersonal thing nor a static thing—not even just one person—but a dynamic pulsating activity, a life, a kind of drama, almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance…[The] pattern of this three-personal life is…the great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very center of reality’ [Cited in C.S. Lewis’s “Little Book of Wisdom”, p 308]. I share this because as Jesus calls Lazarus forth from the tomb, he does so to demonstrate that, as C.S. Lewis says, “God is not an impersonal thing nor a static thing…but a dynamic pulsating activity…the great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very center of life.” Lazarus’s resuscitation from real death is a sign of what is to happen for Jesus: From real death, the power of the Father will call him out of the tomb into Resurrection Life, a new way of being, no longer limited by the powers of sin, suffering and death, not held back from all that God created us human beings to enjoy eternally with him. Each of these recent Lenten Sundays, with the Samaritan Woman [3rd], the Man Born Blind [4th], and today’s, point us toward Easter renewal and refreshment of our souls and bodies, renewing the call to us to come out of the grip of death and the grave of sin, to be freed and unbound and able to live the gifts of God, especially the life for now and always. The refreshing water, Living Water, the new vision, first seeing by faith who Christ is, and then allowing the Lord to free us…Good, Great, Fantastic news!!


Sat - Mar 11

“Grant, most merciful Lord, to your faithful people pardon and peace, that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve you with a quiet mind…” [“Weekday Eucharistic Propers,” p. 27] This Collect is used as Prayer over the People on Ash Wednesday, and at other times in the year. The words, “serve you with a quiet mind” means that God’s forgiveness of my sins grants my conscience, my mind, peace, no longer bothering me at this moment. I can be at peace with God, with others, and with myself. It’s a good thing to pray for pardon and peace from the Lord. Why not seek that gift of a quiet mind by praying today in preparation for Lent III tomorrow and the Gospel on the Samaritan Woman at the Well with Jesus, in John 4?

Fri - Mar 10

Today’s Collect: “Grant, O Lord, that as your Son Jesus Christ prayed on the cross for his enemies, so we may have grace to forgive those who wrongfully or scornfully use us, that we ourselves may be able to receive your forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen” [“Weekday Eucharistic Propers,” p 26]. Just a few words of reflection from C.S. Lewis: “When we Christians behave badly, or fail to behave well, we are making Christianity unbelievable to the outside world” [C.S. Lewis’ Little Book of Wisdom, p 282, from “Mere Christianity”]. And one further quote, “There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him” [Op. cit., p 283, from “The Great Divorce.”]

Thur - Mar 09

Prayerfully take in these selected verses from today’s First Lesson from Jeremiah 17:5- 10: “Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals, and make mere flesh their strength, whose hearts turn away from the Lord [5]…Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord [7]…The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse—who can understand it? I the Lord test the mind and search the heart, to give to all according to their ways, according to the fruits of their doings” [9-10]. Then, ponder these words of C.S. Lewis from his book, “Mere Christianity”: ‘Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him and with Him everything else thrown in’ [Cited in “C.S. Lewis’ Little Book of Wisdom,” page 31]. When we look, go seeking ourselves, as verse 5 puts it, we are cursed…But when we look for Christ, we are, as verse 7 puts it, blessed. So, God knows us through and through, and knows that the “heart is devious above all else,” meaning that we are easily misled without God’s presence and grace. In Lent we go looking for Christ and we will find him, and will know God’s generosity, God’s love and peace and joy.

Wed - Mar 08

In the reading assigned for today from Jeremiah 18:1-11,18-20, familiar words emerge about God as a potter and the house of Israel being the clay molded by the artisan: “Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel” [Jeremiah 18:6]. We may not be “the house of Israel” but we’re the People of God, grafted onto the Vine who is Jesus Christ, who is the One who forms the New Israel in himself, in his own Body, the Church. So, we can expect to be molded and shaped, and that the potter may not be happy with what is forming and correct it to be pleasing to himself. That’s what it means to be in the hands of God, not just in the sense of protection, but of guidance, correction, and formation into what God has created us and called us to be in Christ. Our trip down Lent Lane directs us towards the renewing of our Baptismal Covenant at Easter, and this time of increased prayer, intentional fasting, more generous giving, and being aware of Christ’s unbounded love for us sinners, should make us eager to be reshaped by the Potter so that we can be, as St. Paul says, “Filled with the very holiness of God.” Let’s ask for the grace to be as clay in God’s loving and mighty hands to be shaped more into the image and likeness of Christ Jesus our Lord.

Tue - Mar 07

The Collect for this day:

“O God, you willed to redeem us from all iniquity by your Son: Deliver us when we are tempted to regard sin without abhorrence and let the virtue of his passion come between us and our mortal enemy; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen” [Weekday Eucharistic Propers, p 23]. What strikes me is the phrase: “Deliver us when we are tempted to regard sin without abhorrence…” Do I really abhor sin? Do you? Or do I, you, just say, “Oh, well, I’m only human!” True, as human beings we will chose sin, we will fall; we’re not perfect, at least not on this side of the grave. But the point is that we should want to live our lives in a way that is pleasing to God. What pleases God is our obedience to his call, to his Word, to his Son Jesus Christ. When we “fall off the wagon,” so to speak, hopefully we will feel abhorrence for the sin that put us on the ground. Let’s ask God for the grace to get up and not to stay down there.

Mon - Mar 06

Coming Soon …

Sun - Mar 05

Last Sunday, we heard about Jesus’s temptations in the wilderness. This week, our Gospel takes us to a different locale. Jesus meets the elder Pharisee Nicodemus who’s full of fear and questions. Jesus takes him through a quick lesson on God’s intention for the world by sending the Son: “…so that all who believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” [John 3:16-17]. And this will be accomplished, Nicodemus hears, by the Son of Man being lifted up on the cross like the bronze serpent on a pole was lifted up by Moses in the desert during the exodus. The people were healed of snake bites by looking at the bronze serpent; we are healed of the Serpent’s bite [powers of sin, suffering and death], by looking upon the lifted-up Son of Man. Our baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection which we are
preparing through Lent to renew at Easter is how we gaze upon the One lifted up for us. God was preparing the People of God from the beginning with Abram leaving Ur of the Chaldees to go to the Land God had promised; everything descends from Abram’s obedience to God. So, let’s pray this Sunday to never take the gift of salvation for granted, but to be grateful because, by his Cross and Passion, Christ has redeemed the world.


Sat - Mar 18

St. Cyril of Jerusalem is remembered today in the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church. Cyril was the bishop who is largely responsible for how we in the Western Church celebrate the Major Feasts of the Church Year, especially Holy Week and Easter. Because he was such a great teacher of those preparing as adults for baptism [i.e., catechumens], he because famous for his lessons: His “Catecheses” were written to help people to have a “deeper understanding of the mysteries of salvation” [Cited in “Saints of the Roman Calendar”, p74]. The “once a year” services that we celebrate during Holy Week largely took their shape from Cyril’s work. Liturgy is never about “once upon a time” although there are historical aspects. When we process with palms on the Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, we remember that as we walk our journey, Christ the Victorious one whom we often betray processes with us as we face our crosses, even that of our death. Christ the Victorious washes our feet on Maundy Thursday, joins in the heavenly response to the prayers of the Church on Good Friday, and invites us to die and to rise with him as sorrow turns to exceeding joy! It seems that we’re “play acting” but it’s our human way through engaging our whole selves, body, mind and spirit, in the worship of the God who has called us and made us his own.

Fri - Mar 17

Hosea 14:4-5, 9B: “I will heal their disloyalty; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. I will be like the dew to Israel, he shall blossom like the lily, he shall strike root like the forests of Lebanon…For the ways of the Lord are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.” These words end a prophetic book that was hard on the people, and on the Prophet Hosea, especially. God speaks to Israel through Hosea, and they are assured that God has forgiven them their sins of apostasy, idolatry and all their many immoralities and grievous offenses against the Lord. What a blessing, a joy, and a reason for hope. God is always ready and willing to forgive; nothing is too gravely sinful for the Lord to turn his back and say, “Forget it!” We’re usually the ones who find forgiveness hard, our willingness to bear grudges quite strong. Please pray for the grace to honestly and fearlessly examine your own life and conscience in the here and now in preparation for Sunday’s Eucharist. Ask to be given the grace to forgive even as we are forgiven. Forgiveness is a process, but if we’re at least willing to ask for the grace, we’re half way there. St. Patrick knew that and sought it.

Thur - Mar 16

The Collect for the Day:
“Keep watch over your Church, O Lord, with your unfailing love; and, since it is grounded in human weakness and cannot maintain itself without your aid, protect it from all danger, and keep it in the way of salvation; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.” Such honesty in a prayer for the Eucharist: “…and, since it is grounded in human weakness and cannot maintain itself without your aid…” The Church, the Body of Christ, is like the Lord Jesus: Divine and Human: But the living members of the Body of Christ, you and I, are prone to human weakness, and as such, prone to wound that Body, making it not a glorious representation of Jesus Christ’s presence and action in the world through us, but rather a counter-testimony, a mere shadow of what we’re called to be through Baptism by the power of the Holy Spirit. We sin, we fall short: Gossip, prejudice, slander, anger, resentments, grudges, unwillingness to forgive, selfishness, stinginess, abusive words or actions or behaviors, hypocrisy, pretentiousness, bullying, dishonesty and lying…The list is potentially endless. Each day remaining in Lent, pray for the grace to be more open to the transforming power of the love and mercy of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit, so that our part of the Body of Christ might “keep…in the way of salvation” for our sake and that of the world around us where we live, work, and play.

Wed - Mar 15

Offertory Prayer: “God, who call your unworthy servants to be guests at your table: Let the bread of our service, blessed and broken in Christ’s hands, be spiritual food to feed this world’s hunger; through Jesus Christ our Lord [Monday, Lent 3, p 47, “Celebrating the Seasons”]. As I prayed this during the Eucharist, it struck me powerfully: The little bit of bread surrendered by us, consecrated, “blessed and broken in Christ’s hands” [Jesus is, after all, the One who, by the Holy Spirit, makes the elements what we say they are, i.e., Christ’s Body and Blood], is to be the spiritual food “to feed this world’s hunger.” What does this world hunger for? For love, mercy, justice, peace, understanding, compassion, forgiveness? And how does the Bread of the Eucharist, the Bread of Life, work to feed the world’s hunger?” As the gift of Himself to us in Holy Communion attests, we receive what we are, as St. Augustine of Hippo said 1600 years ago: “Receive what you are and become what you receive.” The Eucharistic gifts are meant to transform us into “other Christs” empowered to serve, to care, to love, to forgive. So more than a gift to us to make us feel holy or united with Jesus, which is certainly true, it is to transform us into the presence of Christ, doing the “work he has given us to do.” He makes us worthy to do this; indeed, Christ invites us to do this, so that the world may believe that he was sent by the Father to save us.

Tue - Mar 14

Today’s Gospel reading is Matthew 18:21-35, and it’s always a great “go to” passage when we’re feeling offended by someone. “How many times must I forgive my brother/sister who offends me –7 times?” as Peter puts the question to Jesus. He thought he was going WAY BEYOND what God would require, since the Pharisees made it “3 Times” only. And Jesus blows up Peter’s assertion: “No –70 times 7 times.” If we’re honest with ourselves, heartfelt and meant forgiveness comes at a cost to us: such has to come from the very deepest part of us to be real and a sign of Christ’s love and mercy having touched us. It can’t be phony, with the desire to “payback” the offense when the opportunity presents itself. The old adage, “To forgive is Divine”, is actually true. To forgive from the heart requires God’s grace and strength. Let’s not be afraid to admit our faltering when it comes to forgiveness, and ask our dear Lord, the expert on forgiveness from the heart, for the grace and strength we need to forgive, and then also for the grace to FORGET.

Mon - Mar 13

[Read 2 Kings 5:1-15]
Naaman the Syrian was a powerful man in his country and among his people, but he suffered from a skin disease commonly referred to in his day as leprosy. He learns of Elisha the Prophet in Israel and goes to seek him out, expecting great and powerful signs worthy of his personal status. Instead, Elisha tells him to go, wash seven times in the River Jordan, that often muddy ditch of a river. He refused and got angry because he felt insulted at the simple instructions. It’s only when his servants prevail upon him that he surrenders his pride, does what the prophet told him, and experiences not only physical but spiritual healing. Not a bad combination to thank God for! Sometimes we think that if we do the extraordinary thing, that God will love us more or act more favorably towards us. Really, the most important thing we can ever do is to “hear the Word of God and keep it.” Jesus chooses the simple way for us: Nothing “over the top” required EXCEPT faith! We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. More than performing great feats of penitence or service, we are invited by the Lord to know his peace, healing, love and joy by our saying “yes,” by our openness to his love and mercy, by our willingness to “do whatever he tells you.” And as I am fond of quoting from St. Augustine of Hippo: “In his will is our peace.”

Sun - Mar 12

In many of the Christian Churches throughout the world today, the unbaptized adults preparing for Baptism, Confirmation and their First Holy Communion hear the readings about God giving water in the desert to his people [Exodus 17:1-7], to the Samaritan Woman receiving from Jesus the promise of life giving water, the Holy Spirit, and her coming to recognize Jesus as Messiah [John 4:5-42], and St. Paul in the Letter to Romans speaking of the Holy Spirit being the way that the love of God is poured into our hearts when we believe in Christ, put our whole faith and trust in his goodness and love [Romans 5:1-11]. This is the Sunday of the First Scrutiny when these catechumens/candidates for Baptism and the other Sacraments of Initiation, are examined on their willingness to renounce their former sinful lives without God, without Christ, and are prayed with and anointed against the attacks of the Evil One who is like a “lion prowling about the world seeking someone to devour.” The anointing and accompanying prayer of the Church gathered lets these people know that we “struggle against principalities and powers” that they are forever going into spiritual combat but that fortified with the Holy Spirit and incorporated into Christ’s Body by Baptism, they will come to know that “greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world.” We have no catechumens of our own but pray for all those going through the Scrutiny this Sunday and those to come on the next two, because they will shortly join with the rest of the Church in renouncing Satan, professing faith in Christ Jesus, and seeking to serve the Lord in Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. May the Living Water of the Holy Spirit refresh all of us today and give us hope, bring us joy, and fill us with love.


Sun - Feb 26

The famous [infamous?] story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden…Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7: “But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die…you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” “This Lent, ask the Holy Spirit to help you recognize where you are being tempted to rebel against God. It may be something subtle, like persisting in a bad habit. Or it may be something more obvious, like resisting God’s will in a difficult situation. Don’t get discouraged if you see signs of rebellion:…through Jesus’ death and Resurrection, we have all received an ‘abundance of grace’…that can help you overcome any temptation—including the temptation to be your own god!… ‘Jesus, give me the grace to submit to you in all things.’” [“The Word Among Us,” Lent 2023, p 26]

Sat - Feb 25

The Eucharistic readings for today are from Isaiah 58:9-14, and Luke 5:27-32. Jesus responds to the critique of his dinner company by the Pharisees by reminding them that it’s not the well who need a doctor, but those who are sick. The Prophet Isaiah reminds the people that mere observance of the Law of God, the Torah, with all its regulations and demands, means nothing if the heart is disengaged. So, what is the sickness? It’s the belief that God wants us to follow the rules God has given us. God gave the rules not to enslave us but to free us, to learn how to love and to care. We can fulfill our duties not because we’re afraid of punishment but because we love the Lord who loved us first. Ask for the grace to see the Lord as the “Great Lover of Humankind” and who calls us to life and to love, not to enslavement to rules.

Fri - Feb 24

February 24 is today’s date, and the Feast of the Apostle Matthias, Judas Iscariot’s “replacement” after he betrayed Jesus and then hanged himself! Very little is known about Matthias, even from the New Testament. But that’s the beauty of it all: Matthias, chosen by lot among the Apostles, is one of the “unsung heroes,” much like ourselves. He was a disciple, was faithful, had been present at all the important events in Jesus’s life and ministry, and when the Holy Spirit chose him, he responded fully and lived out the call, without popularity, without fanfare, but with a tenacious and ardent faith. Ask the Lord today for the grace to be like Matthias, not to seek to be more important and noticed, but to be humble and willing to give regardless of the cost.

Thur - Feb 23

The first reading for the Holy Eucharist of today is Deuteronomy 30:15-20. Moses tells the people that they need to decide between life and death. “Every time we commit a sin…we become less ourselves, and we allow spiritual death to get a foothold not only in our own lives but even in the lives or our descendants…The Cross is the answer to our sin…But the war is not over yet, even if Christ’s victory is assured. The effects of sin and death linger still, and our free will remains” [Clement Harrold, “Journey through Lent,” pp 3-4]. With God’s grace and our openness to receiving it, we can choose life again and again, especially since so much of what kills the spirit surrounds us: Anger, greed, jealousy, violence, unfaithfulness, stinginess, resentments, prejudices…Jesus came that we might have life and have it to the full [cf. John 10:10]. So, what’s it going to be?

Ash Wednesday - Feb 22

“The ashes we receive today signify our commitment to repent and return to the Lord. The Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving…if we keep them faithfully, will find our faith growing and deepening, and the joy of Easter will be so much greater in the end.” [The Rev. John D. Alexander, “Springtime of the Spirit,” p 8]


Sat - Mar 04

“Be perfect, therefore, as you heavenly Father is perfect” [Matthew 5:48]. Remember last Monday’s reflection on, “Be holy for I the Lord your God am holy” [cf., Leviticus 19:1-2]? This is a similar call from our Lord at the end of the first section of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. Jesus is driving home to his disciples that their following of him needed to be put into action. Their every word, deed, thought, needed to be a reflection of the “holy otherness” of God. To live like the rest of the world around them, around us, is to show that we are inclined neither towards either holiness nor perfection, that the status quo is fine for us. But we are called to such a radical kind of life reflected especially throughout Matthew 5 that it is hard to believe that Jesus was serious about it, but he was, most certainly. Read slowly and prayerfully the whole of Matthew 5. Jot down any word, words or phrases that hit you and make you “flinch” about your own discipleship. But know this: the Lord does not call us to do something and then not give the grace to fulfill what he asks of us. Let’s pray to implore the grace of God to assist us in our living as holy people, to be perfected in his image and likeness.

Fri - Mar 03

coming soon

Thur - Mar 02

[Read Matthew 7:7-12] At this late point in the Sermon on the Mount [Matthew 5:1- 7:29] Jesus gives the hearers of his message an invitation to pray always, especially asking for all that we need for our lives or for the others whom we love and cherish, whoever they may be. But we too often give up when what we ask for isn’t given right then and there, or perhaps not at all, ever. “What did I do to make God ignore me or turn me down? I’m a good person, don’t I deserve some consideration? Look at all I do for God and the Church!” When we feel like that, we reveal our lack of understanding: “Jesus approaches us; we need only meet him in trust” [“Journey through Lent,” Clement Harrold, p 20] When we turn towards him in prayer, it’s also true that he is approaching us, waiting to hear our requests, ready to answer in the best way for us and those for whom we pray. As Clement Harrold says above, “we need only meet him in trust.” And the trust is the hardest thing, because it means letting go, surrendering our will to his. But, as St. Augustine said 1600 years ago, “In God’s will is our peace.”

Wed - Mar 01

[Read Jonah 3:1-10, Luke 11:29-32] There are various interpretations as to what is “evil” in the world. Jonah knew that the Ninevites were pagans, captors of his people, and he hated them, hoping that they would not heed the call to repentance and be destroyed. But they do. Many today look around at the quickly changing landscape in society especially in moral issues, some agreeing with everything, others objecting to some issues while supporting others, still others questioning the whole thing and labeling many attitudes, decisions, actions as sinful and destructive. Let us humbly ask the Lord for the grace to see the world and what’s happening as God sees it all, and to be willing to “accept the things we cannot change, have the courage to change the things we can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.”

Tue - Feb 28

“Seek the Lord while he wills to found, call upon him while he is near” [Isaiah 55:6]. “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father, who art in heaven…” [Matthew 6:9]. “Prayer, or relationship to the Divine, is essential to our nature. Without prayer our lives lack that vertical dimension which gives us direction and meaning. St. Ephrem the Syrian is recorded as saying, ‘Birds fly, fish swim, and human beings pray’” [“Journey Through Lent,” Clement Harrold, p 15]. St. Paul tells us in Romans 8:26, that the Holy Spirit will help us to pray, since we often don’t know how. “Prayer, fasting, almsgiving” are the three principal disciplines of Lent, and prayer is listed first. That may be because REAL PRAYER may be hard for us: Coming before our Lord in the silence of
our hearts, perhaps with some bible passage in mind, and being resolute to, by God’s grace and help, to LISTEN to what the Lord is saying to me as an individual, is challenging, but is worth every minute we spend and each bead of sweat that runs down our brow from nerves. We may not always sense the answer we seek but will know our Lord more intimately and by God’s grace be able to follow him more closely.

Mon - Feb 27

“Be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy” [Leviticus 19:1-2]. “As long as you did it/did not do it to one of the least ones, you did it/did not do it to me” [Matthew 25:31-46]. The weekday Eucharistic readings in Lent are the same every year, worthy of repetition in order that we would “read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them” that our lives would be shaped by them. All of us are called to be holy by virtue of our baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection, to be “like God.” But it’s not the “be like God” of the serpent in the Garden of
Eden. It’s more like “taking on the Heart of God” or living out the “sentiments of the Heart of Christ.” Holiness certainly means our sanctification, being more Christ-like from growth in prayer and relationship to God. But it also means seeing others and us as God sees. And then, by God’s grace, to act accordingly. Our Christian life is a process of growth, and as St. Augustine said, “And our hearts are not at rest until they rest in you, O God.” May the Lord give us grace this day to grow a little more to be like God’s self.

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