March 23 – Wednesday of Holy Week

Posted on March 23, 2016 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

godListensToday’s Scripture

“For the Lord listens to the needy and does not spurn his servants in their chains,” (Psa 69:33 ).

Daily Lent Reflection

We are all limited and needy and yet we all pretend that we are not. This learned attitude often leaks into our prayer as well. And so it is often only in times of hardship or suffering that we hit the truth of our own reality which is precisely where God is waiting to meet us! It takes courage to face our own inadequacy when we feel vulnerable – but it is the only way to establish a life-giving connection with the truth.

Daily Lent Challenge

Today I ask myself what my limitations are. What do I really need? Is this different from what I want? Where is God in all of that?

Teresa Keogh, Archdiocese of Southwark

Credible Witnesses

Posted on March 22, 2016 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, March 27, 2016, Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord

Detail from The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection by Burnand.

Many years ago, there was a popular poster that read, “If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

In today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we hear of the powerful witness of Peter to a group of Gentiles. They had been gathered by Cornelius, following a vision in which he was told to summon Peter. Peter begins by telling the story of Jesus, including that he was among those who witnessed what he did, that he witnessed Jesus after the Resurrection, that the prophets bear witness to Christ.

What does it mean to be a witness to the risen Lord in our time? What situations call for us to witness? What difference does the Resurrection make in our everyday lives?

On the surface, we might only think of witnessing as something that involves preaching or teaching, such as the priest during the homily, or a catechist who teaches religious education or leads the RCIA. We might even be a little hesitant to think about ourselves as witnesses, thinking of those who preach on street corners or who are missionaries in foreign lands. Especially when we take into consideration that those missionaries sometimes face persecution and martyrdom, like the Missionary Sisters of Charity who were killed earlier this month, we wonder if we are up to answering the call to witness to Christ!

While priests and catechists and missionaries are all witnesses, there are many other ways to witness to Christ. We know this in our hearts, but perhaps do not always reflect on the call to witness in our own lives, day-to-day, week-to-week, year-to-year. The truth is, most of us will not be called to put our lives physically on the line as a witness to Christ. Many of us may rarely be asked to speak to our faith in formal ways. And while some do preach or teach, the rest of us are called to witness in the course of our lives at home, in our workplace, parish, country, and world, through our actions, attitudes, and demeanor. Many situations in our time call for us to witness: genocide in the Middle East; immigration; human trafficking; and participation in the election process to name only a few.

Pope Francis points to this living witness: “Often today there is an attitude of indifference toward the faith which regards it as irrelevant for human life. The New Evangelization means reawakening the life of faith in the minds and hearts of our contemporaries. Faith is a gift of God; however, it is important that we Christians demonstrate that we live faith in a concrete way, through love, harmony, joy, suffering, because this gives rise to questions, as those that were raised at the beginning of the Church’s journey: Why do they live that way? What urges them on? These are questions which lead straight to the heart of evangelization, to the witness of faith and charity. What we especially need in these times are credible witnesses who make the Gospel visible by their lives as well as by their words, and who reawaken the attraction for Jesus Christ, for the beauty of God” (October 14, 2013).

Why do we live this way? Are we “credible witnesses” who make God’s love known? As we celebrate Easter Sunday, let us take to heart the mystery of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ. Not only does Jesus’ resurrection show us the depths of God’s love; we are also drawn into this mystery through our baptism, in such a way that Christ’s life and light overcome the darkness, doubt, despair, and death in our human life. Death does not have the last word! This is what we are called to share as Christian witnesses! The everyday stuff of life is transformed through Christ. While we may at times lose sight of this, Easter is an annual immersion into the fullness of this mystery.

Many of us will participate in the great Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. We will witness adults and children who are initiated into Christian life and love. With them, we will renounce Satan and reaffirm our belief in Christ, and we will renew our own baptism. Throughout the Easter season, we will be sprinkled with the waters of baptism, showering us in order that we might take to heart Christ’s love and our call to witness to that love with the world through the ways in which we live our lives.

Christ is risen! May we live as witnesses to the Resurrection through all that we are and do, sharing the life and love of the risen One.

Leisa Anslinger

PRAYER

Christ is Risen: The world below lies desolate
Christ is Risen: The spirits of evil are fallen
Christ is Risen: The angels of God are rejoicing
Christ is Risen: The tombs of the dead are empty
Christ is Risen indeed from the dead,
the first of the sleepers,
Glory and power are his forever and ever

—Easter Prayer of St. Hippolytus of Rome.

NOTICES

PROVISIONAL SCHEDULE FOR WORLD YOUTH DAY
A draft of the schedule for Pope Francis’ trip to Poland from July 27 to 31 for the 31st World Youth Day was presented in Krakow on Saturday. The provisional schedule may be viewed at http://www.news.va/en/news/wyd-krakow-2016-draft-schedule-released.

MOTHER TERESA CANONIZATION DATE ANNOUNCED
The Holy Father announced the upcoming canonization of five new saints, including Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata (née Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu), whose work among the “poorest of the poor” won her worldwide acclaim. Hundreds of Missionaries of Charity, members of the religious order founded by Mother Teresa, are expected to be in Rome for her canonization, set for September 4, 2016.

EVERYDAY STEWARDSHIP NOW AVAILABLE IN SPANISH
La corresponsabilidad diaria: reflexiones para el viaje, by Tracy Earl Welliver, is packed full of practical examples and inspiring insights; each of these Everyday Stewardship reflections will encourage you to look more closely for God in all the ordinary moments of your life. Both English and Spanish copies of the book are now available for purchase at www.4LPi.com/store/stewardshipresources.

Download PDF

A Time for Friends

Posted on March 22, 2016 by - Everyday Stewardship

HandsHoly Week is about more than a reflection of events that occurred so very long ago. The events of this week is about NOW. It is about being present to the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This week unites our sufferings with His, our death with His, and our life with His. The events of today in Belgium can strike us so hard, but we often forget that on this day, and every day, many suffer and die due to repression and hate.

The message of this week is not how hate prevails, but to the contrary, how LOVE rises above it all.

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March 22 – Tuesday of Holy Week

Posted on March 22, 2016 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

lightOfNationsToday’s Scripture

“I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth,” (Isa 49:6 ).

Daily Lent Reflection

God is fond of light. Creation includes separation of light from darkness, and our own lives are marked by the same strife. However, we often do not feel very ‘enlightening’ to those closest to us, never mind the nations! In those moments, it is good to remember this promise: “I will make you the light…’ God will do it…if we let God fan into flame that spark of divine life in us. Amazing things happen when we do: we become bearers of God’s healing, well beyond the boundaries of our tiny lives.

Daily Lent Challenge

Today I ask myself how I can allow God to work in me – and through me – even more? What is my particular mission to others?

Teresa Keogh, Archdiocese of Southwark

Holy Week = Last Chance

Posted on March 21, 2016 by - Everyday Stewardship

holy weekWow! Hard to believe Lent 2016 is drawing to a close. How did the season go for you? Really? You weren’t as mindful of the time as you had hoped to be? Well, it is not too late to make these final days great by keeping them HOLY. It will really help you appreciate the Good News of Easter that much more.

Here are just 4 ways to make this LAST CHANCE of a Lenten week a GREAT WEEK:

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March 21 – Monday of Holy Week

Posted on March 21, 2016 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

beautifulLoveToday’s Gospel

“Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil,” (John 12:3 ).

Daily Lent Reflection

This gesture can seem wasteful – extravagant and over the top. And yet, this gesture of profound generosity transforms the entire atmosphere. Something priceless is released in this wasteful act of outrageous intimacy: a beautiful scent of love and care that perfumes the whole house. Not dissimilar is Jesus pouring out his life into our (sometimes not the cleanest) existence and filling it with exquisite aroma.

Daily Lent Challenge

Today I ask myself what is my most precious commodity? Is it time, or is it something else? What stops me from ‘wasting’ it on Jesus? On others?

Teresa Keogh, Archdiocese of Southwark

March 20 – Palm Sunday

Posted on March 20, 2016 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

palmSundayToday’s Scripture

“Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself,” (Phil 2:6-7 ).

Daily Lent Reflection

Today we are entering the mystery of Christ’s humility. We start on a triumphant note, but quickly move to a terrible death on a cross, freely accepted! If we follow Christ’s example, it is not a mindless emptying so that horrors can defeat us. It is an emptying so that God can fill us with power beyond our own strength, and so transform our reality from within with consequences far beyond our wildest imagination.

Daily Lent Challenge

Today I ask myself what fills my life? What do I need to let go of? Where do I experience moments of death? What areas of my life do I need to allow God to fill?

Teresa Keogh, Archdiocese of Southwark

March 19 – Fifth Saturday of Lent

Posted on March 19, 2016 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

beNotAfraidToday’s Gospel

“’Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home,’” (Matthew 1:20).

Daily Lent Reflection

St Joseph is one of the great examples of a person of faith. Matthew’s Gospel describes him as a man of honour, and he is faced with what is humanly a very difficult situation: his betrothed wife is expecting a baby and he is not the father. What must have been his thoughts and feelings when he found out? However, he is able to trust the voice in his dream.

Daily Lent Challenge

Today I will ask myself where do I hear God’s voice telling me not to be afraid? Am I able to trust? Or at least to pray for trust and courage?

Teresa Keogh, Archdiocese of Southwark

Pope Francis launches own Instagram account

Posted on March 18, 2016 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 11.52.59 AM(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday officially launches his own account on the Instagram photo-sharing social network site, under the name “Franciscus.” Founded in 2010, Instagram has around 400 million users worldwide and shares photos and videos with a community of followers.

The opening of the Pope’s Instagram account will increase his strong presence on social media platforms. He already has a Twitter account with the hashtag @ Pontifex that has over 26 million followers who are constantly increasing in number.

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