Praying with the Holy Scriptures this Lent: Monday March 19

In the spirit of the pastoral letter written by our bishop at the beginning of the season of Lent, where he urges us to "take one step with the Holy Spirit this Lent and so deepen our love for the inspired Sacred Scriptures," we would like to lead you in a prayerful encounter with the scriptures for each day of the season of Lent. This is not a bible study but a heart-felt encounter with the One who has longed to reveal himself to you in prayer.

The manner in which we will read the scriptures is called "Lectio Divina," an ancient method of reading, meditating, praying and contemplating the living word of God. Each day we will take the scripture of the day (the scripture of the daily Mass) and guide you through this beautiful process.

Today, Feast of Saint Joseph
Text: Matthew 1: 18-21, 24a

Step One: Lectio:
Slowly read the text below. As in all prayer, it is God who takes the first step, and so God now desires to speak to you through this holy text. Savor the words, but more importantly, savor the love with which the Lord speaks these words to you today.

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.

Step Two: Meditatio:
What does the biblical text say to us? I become aware of the thoughts and feelings I have as I encounter this holy text. The following reflection may help you today to focus on the meaning of the text for your life today.

Does God make contracts or does God make covenants? We would say, ”Of course God makes covenants. Those are the words that I have heard since I was young.”But even if I have heard the language, I am not sure what it means.

Well a contract is a legally binding agreement between two parties - a kind of quid pro quo arrangement. If you do this for me, I will do this for you. If you don’t fulfill your end of the deal, I have no obligation to fulfill my end. You break the contract, and the deal is off. Some people may think of God as entering into a contract with us. “Here are the rules. Break the rules, and don’t go expecting anything from me!”

A covenant, at least in the religious sense, is totally different. A covenant describes a relationship of sacrificial love. I will always be here for you no matter what. This is the relationship that God made with us from the beginning of time.

Joseph and Mary enter into a betrothal contract. And, to Joseph, it seems that Mary broke the contract by getting herself pregnant. Such a severe breaking of the contract (infidelity) invoked the penalty of stoning. Joseph does not want to deal with this betrothed in a contractual way. He wants their love to be a covenant love - but he can’t figure out how not to “expose her shame.” God gives him a way out - a way out of contractual thinking and a way into covenant love. “Don’t be afraid to take Mary into your home.”

God made a covenant with us. He will betroth himself to us no matter what. He wants us to likewise to imitate that kind of covenant love with one another. Joseph is open to letting God show him how to love in an extraordinary way

Step three: Oratio:
What do we say to the Lord in response to His word? What are the petitions or praise I offer him? What are the graces I am seeking as I encounter this holy text?

Is there a situation in your life right now where God is asking you to go even further -- to extend even more compassion and love than you are at present? Sit quietly and ask the Lord to unveil for you where he may be calling you to take that extra step.

Step Four: Contemplatio
We take the time to be silent, to allow our heart to rest in the One who loves us so. We simply allow our hearts to be still for all that we need and all that we have asked for has now been placed in the hands of the One who loves us so.

Praying with the Holy Scriptures this Lent: Monday, March 18

In the spirit of the pastoral letter written by our bishop at the beginning of the season of Lent, where he urges us to "take one step with the Holy Spirit this Lent and so deepen our love for the inspired Sacred Scriptures," we would like to lead you in a prayerful encounter with the scriptures for each day of the season of Lent. This is not a bible study but a heart-felt encounter with the One who has longed to reveal himself to you in prayer.

The manner in which we will read the scriptures is called "Lectio Divina," an ancient method of reading, meditating, praying and contemplating the living word of God. Each day we will take the scripture of the day (the scripture of the daily Mass) and guide you through this beautiful process:

Today, Monday of the Second Week of Lent
Text: Luke 6: 36-38

Step One: Lectio:
Slowly read the text below. As in all prayer, it is God who takes the first step, and so God now desires to speak to you through this holy text. Savor the words, but more importantly, savor the love with which the Lord speaks these words to you today.

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. "Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you."

Step Two: Meditatio:
What does the biblical text say to us? I become aware of the thoughts and feelings I have as I encounter this holy text. The following reflection may help you today to focus on the meaning of the text for your life today.

So often we run from our own dark side, so fearful and full of shame of the darkness we see within. While today's gospel challenges us to examine the times when we judge others, we need to think also of the ways we condemn ourselves. Self-hatred is the root of all evil. What we so loathe (or fear) inside ourselves is what we so readily see in others, and so we judge and condemn and hate in someone else what we fear might exist within our own dark side. Is it possible that when we so ruthlessly condemn someone else we are likewise condemning (or at least not accepting) that same dark side that exists in my very own self?

Believing that God so desires to forgive me, to be merciful to me, to love me in my inadequacies is such an important step if we are to initiate mercy and forgiveness and tolerance towards others.

Step three: Oratio:
What do we say to the Lord in response to His word? What are the petitions or praise I offer him? What are the graces I am seeking as I encounter this holy text?

Prayerfully reflect on that one aspect of somebody in your life which you are constantly criticizing and condemning. Where is the energy coming from? Why all the hatred and loathing?

Step Four: Contemplatio
We take the time to be silent, to allow our heart to rest in the One who loves us so. We simply allow our hearts to be still for all that we need and all that we have asked for has now been placed in the hands of the One who loves us so.

Praying with the Holy Scriptures this Lent: Sunday, March 17

In the spirit of the pastoral letter written by our bishop at the beginning of the season of Lent, where he urges us to "take one step with the Holy Spirit this Lent and so deepen our love for the inspired Sacred Scriptures," we would like to lead you in a prayerful encounter with the scriptures for each day of the season of Lent. This is not a bible study but a heart-felt encounter with the One who has longed to reveal himself to you in prayer.

The manner in which we will read the scriptures is called "Lectio Divina," an ancient method of reading, meditating, praying and contemplating the living word of God. Each day we will take the scripture of the day (the scripture of the daily Mass) and guide you through this beautiful process:

Today, Sunday of the Second Week of Lent
Text: Luke 9: 28-36

Step One: Lectio:
Slowly read the text below. As in all prayer, it is God who takes the first step, and so God now desires to speak to you through this holy text. Savor the words, but more importantly, savor the love with which the Lord speaks these words to you today.

Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus,  "Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
But he did not know what he was saying. While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my chosen Son; listen to him."
After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.

Step Two: Meditatio:
What does the biblical text say to us? I become aware of the thoughts and feelings I have as I encounter this holy text. The following reflection may help you today to focus on the meaning of the text for your life today.

“All things work together for the good for those who believe.”
“Is it possible that He who did not spare His own Son, but handed Him over for the sake of us all, will not grant us all things besides?”
“Eye has not seen nor ear has heard what God has prepared for those who love Him.”

So many times we are reminded in Scripture to hold in our hearts the “big picture.” Within that big picture, the fact that we are loved beyond all price, that God labors to love us with every single breath that we take, calls forth from us a faith that everything belongs – everything fits. And so, immediately after Jesus predicts his Passion, predicts to his disciples that He will be handed over to the chief priests to be put to death, he brings his disciples to the mountain and there before Peter, James and John, manifests His glory. Jesus gives them a glimpse of the future – a glimpse of the big plan – a glimpse to carry them through the desolation of the challenging moments of Calvary itself.

Does Jesus do that for us today? Are there moments of “transfiguration” in our life where Jesus wants us to see into the future -- a future that will not disappoint? Would the Father simply stay silent, locked up in heaven itself, and give us nothing that points toward the fulfillment of all things which will bring us the strength to persevere through all the garbage of life? Will the Father not want to enlighten our eyes so that we can even hope that for some reason, this person is in my life – for some reason, I am experiencing this challenge in life?

Our commitment to “stay in the game” is far too important to the Father that He would not risk simply leaving us in darkness. The signs are there – the glimpses are made manifest. Maybe I need to first ask the Father to heal me of all the hurts and disappointments I have encountered in life so that there will be no obstacles in my heart preventing me from believing in the signs that surround me.

Step three: Oratio:
What do we say to the Lord in response to His word? What are the petitions or praise I offer him? What are the graces I am seeking as I encounter this holy text?

I ask the Lord to show me a moment in my life when I were able to look back and see how all the pieces fit together to bring about God’s mysterious plan in my life.

Step Four: Contemplatio
We take the time to be silent, to allow our heart to rest in the One who loves us so. We simply allow our hearts to be still for all that we need and all that we have asked for has now been placed in the hands of the One who loves us so.