Lent, Lent, Mass Reflection, Self Care, Women's Ministry

What’s Wrong with the World Today

26 February 2021

Matthew 5:20-26

What’s wrong with the world today? Several decades ago, the London Times asked this question of essayists and orators – people who by that days’ standards were “influencers”. G. K. Chesterton, the famous writer, philosopher, and lay Catholic theologian, responded to the Times. He wrote:

Dear Sirs:

I am.

Sincerely yours,

G. K. Chesterton

Those are sage words even for the problems of today, and I’m carrying them with me during Lent. There’s a lot wrong in our world today, but righting the wrong starts with me. It begins with letting go of anger and being reconciled the people in my close circle. As today’s gospel shares, “if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gifts there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift” (Mt 5:23-24).

Turning the well-known verse of Matthew 7:3 into first-person, “Why do I notice the splinter in my brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in my own eye?” My small actions will not fix the whole world, but they might fix the little sliver that God gave me to toil within until my journey on this life is complete.

Elizabeth Tomlin

Meditation

What’s wrong with the world today?

Lent Devotional 2021
Download your copy of A Time to Grow: A Daily Devotional for Lenten Pilgrims here.

Bible, Gospel, Lent, Lent, Mass Reflection, Uncategorized, Women's Ministry

Out of Love or Obligation?

Matthew 9:14-15

I am a pretty literal person. To me, passages this make sense because we are reading the scriptures with post-Resurrection knowledge. We know who Jesus is and that the disciples are right to feast with the Lord – the bridegroom. We know what Jesus means when he says that “the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away” (Mt 9:15).

Something more has stuck with me with this passage though, and it reminds me of the story of the Prodigal Son, which we will read a little later during Lent. What comes to mind was a question a priest asked in his homily a few years ago. 

If you will recall the parable, the older brother was miffed that the father had a fattened calf slaughtered in honor of his younger brother’s return from his perfidious sojourn, while he, the older son, had obeyed his father.  The father tells the older brother that all they have, has always been his to enjoy.  

Do you do things out of love or obligation?

The priest asked our congregation, “Do you do things out of love or only out of obligation?”  The older brother was fulfilling his duty out of obligation but not love; at least that’s how I understood the question. That struck me hard especially because I’m disciplined and dutiful.

I see a parallel here. The followers of John the Baptist are asking Jesus why his disciples were not fasting in accordance with the customs of the day, but  Jesus knew that the time for fasting would be once he was crucified.  It’s almost as if he is stating that there is no need to fast out of obligation because there will come a time for all who believe in him to fast out of love for him. 

Why do you fast?

This begs the question, are you fasting out of love for Jesus, or out of obligation? Are you attending Mass because these are days of obligation, or because you love the Lord and want to sit at his feet and partake of his banquet?

Now, acting out of obligation is not necessarily wrong. Often times we do the right thing out of obligation. We may refrain from gossip, for example, because we feel obliged not to damage another’s reputation but not because we actually have much regard for someone. It’s a harder pursuit to refrain from gossiping about someone because you love that person as a sister or brother in Christ, made in the image and likeness of God.

To act out of obligation is good. To love is better.

What have you chosen to offer during Lent?  Are you fasting from something? Are you adding something more to your plate, such an increased prayer time?  Or perhaps you pledged to donate to a food drive by buying a few extra groceries for the food bank each time you go to the commissary?  Whatever it is you choose to do, strive to do it because of love?

Aly Tugaoen


Meditation

Lord Jesus, During Lent I have given up or taken on (name your lenten offerings), help me to make these sacrifices out of love for you for my neighbor. When I’m weak in my offerings, remind me that you gave your entire life freely out of love for me, your unworthy servant. Bless my obedience to this lenten sacrifice and increase my love for you. Amen.


Lent Devotional 2021
A devotional for Lent 2021 with daily Gospel Reflections Download HERE

Get your copy of Joyful Momentum HERE
love people woman writing
Lent, Lent, Mass Reflection, Uncategorized, Women's Ministry

On Being a Servant Leader

Luke 9:22-25

Two lines from Today’s Gospel strike me. The first is “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Lk 9:23). The second is “What profit is there for one to gain the world yet lose or forfeit himself” (Lk 9:25). To me, these speak loudly, not only of discipleship, but also of servant leadership. This makes sense because to be a good servant leader, one must first be a disciple. 

For the better part of the last 45 years, I have been mentored and guided by selfless servant leaders. Some were older than me and some younger, but all selfless and wise in their own right. Unfortunately, I also experienced some who claimed themselves as servant leaders, only to show themselves as wanting the world. The difference between the two was as clear as day. The true servant leaders understood and lived the conditions of discipleship and the others did not. 

Imagine how it must have felt hearing Jesus speak of his own approaching passion and his instruction about the cost of following him. Luke 9:24 says “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”

Jesus showed us the cost of doing the Father’s will, and he knows that when we lose our lives for his sake, it will not be easy, but that is the only way. Dying to self to follow Jesus is exactly what we are called to do each day, and especially when we are called to serve others. When others see our service, they should see us as a “visible presence of Christ.” Our actions should be to further the kingdom, not to fulfill our own ambitions and goals. May our reflection on the conditions for discipleship lead us to rely on Jesus’ promise that as we die to ourselves we will live in Him.  

Lisa Miklos

Meditation

How does Jesus ask you to lose your life for his sake?

Advent, Blessed Mother, Gospel, Mary, Theology, Uncategorized, Women's Ministry

The Immaculate Conception – Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

Sunday 20 December

Luke 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.


If you’ve been keeping up with the readings this Advent, you’ll notice that today’s Gospel is the same Scripture that we read on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In her reflection for that day, Amanda Alley wrote about how God gives us sufficient grace for each thing he asks of us. 

Today, I want to talk about Mary and her Immaculate Conception. Some people struggle to understand how we can claim that Mary was conceived without original sin.

Where is this in the Bible? 

Today’s reading tells us that the Angel approached Mary and said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” (Lk 1:28). As articulated by Pope Piux IX, our Church understands “full of grace” to mean that “the Most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.” (Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus). 

If you read this passage next to Gabriel telling Zechariah about Elizabeth’s pregnancy, you’ll notice that the stories are very similar, but how Gabriel addresses each person is quite different.  The angel appears to Zechariah and simply calls him by his name, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah” (Lk 1:13). In contrast, the angel greets Mary, “Hail, full of grace” (Lk 1:28) and later uses Mary’s name only later. This initial greeting — “Hail, full of grace” — is unique.

Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, spoke at the MidAtlantic Congress in 2019 and noted that the Roman Catholic Church has a carefully articulated theology about the Eucharist, in part, because the Church had to defend her beliefs from attack. Similarly, the Eastern Orthodoxy has a well-developed theology of praying with icons because iconography was attacked as idolatry. (View minutes 17-20 of this recording for the specific remarks).

Sometimes external pressure moves us to declare or reaffirm truths that we already know. Like the Eucharist and iconography, the Catholic Church articulated the Immaculate Conception as “dogma” in 1854, not because Mary’s Conception without original sin was a new concept, but because the belief was under attack. 

If Mary’s Immaculate Conception makes sense to you, that is a grace. If this teaching is hard for you to understand, I recommend the book A Biblical Walk with Mary by Dr. Edward Sri as a good starting point.

If you’re struggling with a teaching of the Church, find a friend to help you learn. We’re all students. Ask for God’s grace to understand.

Elizabeth Tomlin

Meditation

Have you ever struggled to understand a teaching of the Faith? What helped you to get through it?


car oldtimer classic car yellow car
Advent, Family Life, Gospel, Mass Reflection, Motherhood, Women's Ministry

What you Focus on Gets Bigger. Reflection for Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent

Wednesday 16 December 2020

Luke 7:18B-23

At that time, John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” When the men came to the Lord, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’” At that time Jesus cured many of their diseases, sufferings, and evil spirits; he also granted sight to many who were blind. And Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”


In our family we play a variation of Slug Bug called “Yellow Car.” The thought was to make the game harder because there are not that many yellow cars. That is, until you look for them… then they are everywhere!

That which you focus on, gets bigger. (Tip: Don’t focus on your backside!) When questioned by John’s disciples, Jesus asks them what they have seen and heard. The list of wonders grows and grows as they pay attention and look.  And then Jesus tells these disciples to go back and report what have found.

What wonders are you seeing? Are you even looking for the wonders? Many times, we must be intentional in our seeking, because like the proverbial snowball, once we get going our experience keeps expanding. Make note. Be grateful.

And then, Share! Tell what you are seeing and hearing.  You have a circle of influence and it starts in your domestic church, your home. Open the eyes of those you interact with to beauty. Witness to the work of God that is happening in and around you. Your joy, love and amazement at the goodness of God is contagious! Like a pebble dropped into a pond, the change in you will create change in those around you.

See. Hear. Go. Tell.

Jackie Henderson

Meditation

Your circle of influence starts in your domestic church, your home. How are you a witness to the work of God in your domestic church?

photo of child reading holy bible
Advent, Family Life, Gospel, Motherhood, Women's Ministry

Living our Faith with Courage. Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent

Tuesday 15 December

Matthew 21:28-32

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: “What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ 
The son said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” They answered, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.”


When my daughter was just starting to talk, I remember wanting to make sure we always said grace before meals. Growing up, my family knew how to say grace, but we didn’t do it regularly, and especially not in public. As I’m teaching my daughter to say grace, sometimes I’m tempted to skip public prayer if we’re dining at a restaurant. But let me tell you, my four year old never skips grace!

Saying that we’ll live our faith is easy.  Actually living our faith takes courage.  

In today’s world it can be so easy to post about doing the right things. We can tell people we pray before meals or post about attending Mass online when really we slept in. But we were made for more than easy. We were made to do the work not just talk about doing the work.

We were made to do hard things and sometimes praying in front of friends or family who are not Catholic is hard. Sometimes getting up to go to Mass, even Mass on TV, is hard, but doing that work is so important because it gives us encounters with the Lord. 

What’s more, we are called to be an example to others and a witness to Christ. People have their eyes on us. From our kids, to our friends, to our social media following, what we say we are going to do is far less important than what we actually do. God calls us not just to say what we mean but to do what we say we will do. He calls us to be an example of his love and while that may be easier said than done, I encourage you never to stop trying.

Rebecca Lockhart

Meditation

What does it mean to you to be courageous in your faith?