THE SECRET TO A GREAT LENT
When a helping hand is “giving alms” – a selfless gesture of true generosity.
How Can I Make My Lenten Resolutions Truly Meaningful?
On our Lenten Journey we are called to fast, pray and give alms in preparation for Our Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection. Fasting, praying and almsgiving… we know what they mean, or do we? This Lent, I’ve challenged myself to move beyond conventional thinking about the Lenten season and consider the “secret” of having the best Lenten season ever. It’s something that is before each of us all the time, yet it’s incredibly easy to loose sight of.
The Forgotten Partner
Fr. Anthony Giambrone feels that almsgiving is the forgotten partner in our Lenten resolutions. He writes that “Works of mercy hold the key, for they animate our acts with love.” He concludes by saying that “Charity is the supernatural secret of this season.” But where do we find this CHARITY? And how do we make ACTS OF MERCY bring our love into our actions for others?
The Secret is Generosity
St. Gregory of Nazianzen writes: “Resolve to imitate God’s generosity, and no one will be poor. Let us not labor to heap up and hoard riches while others remain in need. Is it not God who asks you now in your turn to show yourself generous above all other creatures? Because we have received from him so many wonderful gifts, will we not be ashamed to refuse him this one thing only, our generosity?”
Photo Credit: Colleen McNerney
The secret then, is GENEROSITY in giving of ourselves, just as God has given everything to us. Far more than our monetary resources, true generosity demands the love and mercy of the Father, who showed his generosity in the gift of Christ Jesus… incarnate. One who knows us, loves us and sacrificed himself for us. Can we truly be any less generous?
(Deacon Tim McNerney, at The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C.)
The Our Father & Pope Francis’ Suggested Change
When I read about the Pope’s suggested change from: “lead us not into temptation” to “God help us not to fall into temptation,” made sense to me and I even began to incorporate this change when I prayed the Our Father.
Last week in preparing for my Homily for the first Sunday of Lent specifically Mark’s gospel regarding The Temptation of Jesus I found a few reasons why it should remain in its original content. They are:
The Jewish thought at the time of Jesus was that whenever a person received in honor, testing or temptation followed. In understanding the first verse of Mark’s gospel we had to look back to Jesus’ Baptism, when the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove and a voice from the cloud said: “this is my beloved Son in whom I am very well pleased.” This certainly was an honor and according to Jewish thought temptation would follow.
In our baptism we also received a great honor: in our baptism we died with Christ so that we can also live with Christ forever and eternal life. I looked upon this as an honor and keeping with the Jewish thought temptation would follow.
Jesus overcame the temptations because God was present with him in his humanity with the angels ministering to him. In our temptation God is with us too. Remember, Jesus’ great temptation when he asked the Father if this cup could pass from him but not his will but God’s will be done. What happened? God sent an angel to strengthen Him.
As I looked at the results that happen to us when we are tempted and that they were positive and strengthened our relationship with God, temptation made sense to me.
Temptation helps us to detach ourselves from the things of this earth and focus on God.
Temptation helps us to develop a more ardent desire to be with God in heaven.
When we are tempted we become disturbed by temptation and see the danger of committing sin which disappoints God and overcoming temptation shows our love for God.
It renews our determination to avoid sin and not to offend God.
St. Augustine says:
“Our pilgrimage cannot be exempt from trial we progress by means of trial no one knows themselves except through trial or receives a crown except after victory or strives against an enemy temptations.
If in Christ we have been tempted, in Christ we overcame the devil. Do you think only of Christ’s temptations and fail to think of his victory? See yourself as tempted in Christ, and see yourself as victorious in Christ. He could have kept the devil from Himself but if Jesus was not tempted he could not teach us how to triumph over temptation.”
In our Baptism we received the strength of the Holy Spirit to overcome temptation and the graces we need for eternal life.
God has given us the gifts and graces we need, now it’s up to us to use them.
God Bless – Deacon Steve
Posted in Homily, Ministry, Reflections, Uncategorized
Tagged change, faith, Our Father, Pope Francis, prayer, religion, St. Augustine, temptation
Our rollout of the @deaconspeaking Twitter Team account in the diocese has been proceeding smoothly. We have received good recognition: retweets, likes and profile visits by many Twitter users. Each day we explore new features: Lists, Hastags, Tweet Requotes.
One of the best features has been the Twitter Moments… an opportunity to combine related tweets into a single tweet that pulls a strand of thoughts together. Two in particular, “Celebrating St. Mark” and “Trust in God” have enabled many more users to interact with our evangelization message.
Why? For one, the “Moments” package can be visually compelling, as with this painting of the Apostle Mark that was an element of a requoted tweet. Most of all, by combining two our three related tweets together, we have the opportunity to present a message that really communicates a point. And that’s often a challenge to accomplish in 140 characters!
Check them out for yourself and let us know what you think!
Celebrating St. Mark: https://t.co/iOZ4vI0HYX
Trust in God: https://t.co/WtMf4QqoBc
Many years ago, while still a member of the laity (in fact, the diaconate wasn’t even on my radar), I had settled into my pew a few minutes early before Mass, finished a brief prayer, then read the readings for the day in the missal. As I turned the missal over to set it on the pew, the prayers on the back cover caught my attention.
Lord Jesus Christ, take all my freedom, my memory, my understanding and my will. All that I have and cherish you have given me. Your love and your grace are wealth enough for me. Give me these, Lord Jesus, and I ask for nothing more. Amen.
I was familiar with many of them, but this day, a prayer I’d never noticed popped out at me: The Dedication to Jesus. As I read the prayer, I felt it resonate deep within my heart… these words spoke to me in a way that no prayer ever had. When I’d finished reading, I noticed the attribution to St. Ignatius of Loyola.
I took the missal home, memorized it over a period of a few months; it became my “go-to” prayer. A short, meaningful rededication of my faith and trust in Jesus.
Ignatian spirituality has become a central theme in my prayer life since then. I was content… at peace in my acceptance of Christ the King. And then Sr. Faustina crossed my path. She hadn’t been canonized… her cause was certainly an active one, but I’d never encountered The Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. And, as you might expect, one aspect of the Chaplet clung to my heart just as tenaciously as the Ignatian Dedication: The Our Father bead prayer… coupled with the 10th Hail Mary bead prayer.
For me, on this Divine Mercy Sunday, I am thankful for this prayer which has a singular place for me outside of the Chaplet: just before the reception of the Holy Eucharist, I offer all that Jesus is giving to me in His Holy Body & Blood to our Heavenly Father. It centers me… provides me with a powerful focus for reception of the sacrament. Most of all, year-round, I commemorate His Passion for salvation of the whole world.
The Annual Youth Bike Tour sponsored by St. Stephen – St. Patrick Church does far more than just bring together youth and adults on bicycles for 5 days of touring the roads and trails of various parts of our diocese, it involves like-minded Catholic Christian adults and young people on a theme-inspired adventure that focuses on living in Jesus’ light, knowing His truth and following His way.
This year’s venue will be the Southern Tier around the Owego area. As in the past, youth 14 years or older can participate. Complete information is now being distributed by email, Facebook, the Diocesan Events Calendar and more.
Dates: Tuesday Evening, August 4 – Sunday, August 9, 2015
Contact David Wells, YBT Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The 19th Annual 2015 Youth Bike Tour sponsored by the Catholic Community of St. Stephens & St. Patrick’s Churches will be stronger than ever this summer, thanks to growing participation from the Catholic communities in Chenango County as well.
Borrowing a portion of the theme from this year’s Ignite 2015, youth cyclists age 14 and older will be pedaling the country roads and trails of the NYS Southern Tier…Owego, Candor and Endicott… “Rise Up & Be Strong: All in His name and for His glory!”
According to Youth Bike Tour coordinator, David Wells, the tour will feature 5 days and 4 nights of:
- Adventure & fun,
- Hiking and biking in nature,
- Service to communities and individuals around us,
- Great food and campfires,
- Christian music and companionship with new friends and past
Mark Your Calendar:
WHEN: Tuesday Evening, Aug. 4 through Sunday Afternoon, Aug. 9, 2015
CONTACT: David Wells, Email – email@example.com
Pass this information along to your DRE, Youth Ministers and other interested parties. Past tours have enjoyed the participation of as many as 50 youth and adult volunteers. We call it, “Evangelization On Wheels”!