March 7 – Fourth Monday of Lent

Posted on March 7, 2016 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

presentGodToday’s Gospel

“’Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe,’ (John 4:48).”

Daily Lent Reflection

Imagine what it would have been like to witness one of Jesus’ miracles. What difference would it have made to your faith in God? Do you think you would have been amazed or do you think you would have been skeptical that there was some other explanation for what had happened?

Nowadays people think there is a scientific explanation for everything, which enables them to deny the existence of God. Christians, however, believe that God is ever-present in the world, performing miracles all the time and you just need to see the signs!

Daily Lent Challenge

Today I will spend a few moments thinking about a miracle of God that I have witnessed recently and give thanks to Him.

Teresa Keogh, Archdiocese of Southwark

March 6 – Fourth Sunday of Lent

Posted on March 6, 2016 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

prodigalSonsToday’s Gospel

“’But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found,’ (Luke 15:32).”

Daily Lent Reflection

Today we have the story of the prodigal son/loving father. It is a familiar narrative. The elder son is jealous of his younger brother and his father’s generosity. Are we the same? Do we forget the abundance God showers upon us and the great mercy shown us throughout our lives? We are called to respond with great mercy towards others.

Daily Lent Challenge

Today I will ask myself if I have I ever felt resentment towards someone because I didn’t think they deserved to be rewarded? I will try to feel pleased for that person and give thanks to God for their gifts.

Teresa Keogh, Archdiocese of Southwark

March 5 – Third Saturday of Lent

Posted on March 5, 2016 by - Lent Reflections

humbleYourselfToday’s Gospel

“’For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted,’ (Luke 18:14).”

Daily Lent Reflection

We live in a society in which humility is considered to be a weakness. We are encouraged to be proud of our abilities and push ourselves forward for recognition, even at the expense of others. Instead we should look out for others, especially the weaker members of our community and encourage them to use their gifts.

Daily Lent Challenge

Today I will look for an opportunity to step back and allow someone else to shine instead of me.

–Teresa Keogh, Archdiocese of Southwark

March 4 – Third Friday of Lent

Posted on March 4, 2016 by - Lent Reflections

loveGodFirstToday’s Gospel

“’Which is the first of all the commandments?,’ (Mark 12:28).”

Daily Lent Reflection

Imagine sitting listening to Jesus as he answers the questions put to him by those who wanted to catch him out and yet were astounded by his answers. We are often asked awkward questions about our faith but we should take courage and always remember that love of God is the first commandment we live by and love of neighbour is the second. Everything else flows from these.

Daily Lent Challenge

Today I will show my love for God and neighbor through an act of kindness to a stranger or someone I don’t get along with.

Teresa Keogh, Archdiocese of Southwark

An Everyday Steward is Gracious

Posted on March 3, 2016 by - Everyday Stewardship

kindnessFor each Sunday of Lent and Passion Sunday, the Everyday Stewardship reflection will look at each of the six characteristics of an Everyday Steward, as contained in the book of the same name.

This week we explore how an Everyday Steward is gracious.

Click here to read the full post

Past posts:

If you missed the reflection, An Everyday Steward is Accountable, you can read it here.
If you missed the reflection, An Everyday Steward is Prayerful, you can read it here.
If you missed the reflection, An Everyday Steward is Mindful,  you can read it here.

March 3 – Third Thursday of Lent

Posted on March 3, 2016 by - Lent Reflections

followJesusToday’s Gospel

“’Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters,’ (Luke 11:23).”

Daily Lent Reflection

We are called to follow Jesus actively, and invite others to follow with us, in order to build up the kingdom of God. Neutrality is not an option. What does this mean for me?

Daily Lent Challenge

Today I will think of ways in which I might invite others to wonder about God for example by offering to pray for them in times of trouble.

Teresa Keogh, Archdiocese of Southwark

Being a Faithful Citizen and Disciple

Posted on March 2, 2016 by - Everyday Stewardship

FlagThere has been much talk in the news media recently about who belongs in the US and who doesn’t, who is legal and who is not, and who has rights and who does not. You can be a faithful Christian and believe that people need to follow rules about immigration and citizenship.

However, we are talking about real people made in the image of God. By virtue of that reality, all human beings deserve respect, demand dignity, and have certain rights.

Click here to read the full post

March 2 – Second Wednesday of Lent

Posted on March 2, 2016 by - Lent Reflections

deepenYourFaithToday’s Gospel

“’Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.,’ (Matt 5:17).”

Daily Lent Reflection

Lent is a time of deepening our faith and our understanding of God. Jesus refers to the books of the Old Testament as the Law and the Prophets and explains how he came to fulfil these words of scripture and to clarify the Law. Jesus challenged many previously held attitudes, for example to love rather than hate your enemy and to turn the other cheek rather than seek revenge.

Daily Lent Challenge

Today if  I know someone who does not like me, I will ask God to help that person change their attitude towards me and free me from any ill feeling towards them.

Teresa Keogh, Archdiocese of Southwark

Three Ways Online Giving Helps Your Parishioners

Posted on March 1, 2016 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

Using an online giving tool like WeShare has obvious benefits for your parish—more consistent giving, less time spent counting donations, and less paperwork for your staff. But how does it help your parishioners?

Here are three ways giving online is good for your parishioners:

  1. Giving is WorshipOnline giving can help build a closer relationship with God.
    If we truly believe, as the New Testament states that “all good giving and every perfect gift” is given to us by our Creator (James 1:17), then everything we have in life—our job, our life, and our bank account is all from God.
    So when we are giving to our church or to people in need, we are not giving “our money,” we are giving back to God what is his to begin with.
    Giving then becomes an act of faith because we believe that God will provide for all of our needs. Recurring giving becomes a continual act of faith and worship. All giving draws us closer to God and helps align our hearts to the idea that he is in control of all things and everything is in his hands.
  2. Every Church on MissionOnline giving builds a deeper relationship with the mission of your church.
    As parishioners make the decision to give to the church, they begin to feel more invested in the direction and spiritual health of the parish. And as they give more frequently and consistently, the act of giving actually becomes an act of worship, putting God first in their lives as they fulfill his mission in their local church.
    The Book of Matthew tells us that “’where your treasure is, there also will your heart be,’ (Mat 6:21)” and there is no better place for parishioners’ hearts to be than focused on God and the mission of His church.
  3. Make Life EasierOnline giving makes life easier for your parishioners.
    Online giving can help build a closer relationship with God and invest parishioners in the mission of the church, which are great spiritual reasons to do it. But online giving also makes parishioners’ lives easier, so it really is a win-win situation for everyone.

    • First, recurring giving saves time because your parishioners don’t have to worry about looking for their envelope and checkbook every week in the mad dash to church. Everything is set up in a few minutes online.
    • Second, parishioners no longer have to worry about making up for donations on weeks they were home sick, on vacation, or attending to personal matters. Their support to their parish continues even when they can’t be in the pew on Sunday.
    • Lastly, they can make changes at any time to their account and easily receive communication from the parish when new collections, events, and registrations are added. With many platforms, including WeShare, even buying tickets for events and registering for classes which used to mean filling out a long paper form and making a special trip to the church office, can now be done in minutes from the comfort of home.

If you’re currently looking for an online giving tool and would like more information about how WeShare can make online giving and event registrations easy for your church, sign up for a free webinar here, or fill out a Contact Us request.

To read what other parishes across the country are saying about WeShare, click here for testimonials.


Our Ministry of Reconciliation

Posted on March 1, 2016 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, March 6, 2016, 4th Sunday of Lent

Photo of The Return of the Prodigal Son.

Pope Francis’ latest book, The Name of God Is Mercy, provides some wonderful reflections on mercy and forgiveness as we celebrate this Jubilee Year of Mercy. Pope Francis tells us that “Mercy is the first attribute of God. The name of God is mercy. There are no situations we cannot get out of, we are not condemned to sink into quicksand.” This weekend we are presented with Luke’s incredible story of the prodigal son. Every human being can relate to some aspect of this parable as it opens us to deep reflection about all of the relationships that comprise our lives: our relationships with God, self, and others.

Regardless of what, if any, creed a person professes, all can agree that our world suffers from disordered relationships. It appears that after all these generations and centuries we still cannot figure it out. Power and domination, retribution and punishment, control and self-advancement, along with many other self-preserving philosophies detail how our daily relationships around the globe unfold.

In the midst of all of this craziness is a voice, sometimes uttered as a whisper, that is calling us to reconciliation, mercy, forgiveness, and love. We can all hear it, see it, and desire it. However, we are absolutely at a loss as to how to obtain it! Why? These realities that are in the very core of every human heart are not found in systems, ideologies, intellectual constructs, political maneuvers or positioning, or in wars. They are found in God. And only when we all figure out that our genuine happiness can only be obtained when all things—all political structures and ideologies, all nations, every people, all science, and all human endeavors and possibilities—see God and his mercy as their ultimate end, will we obtain it. As believers, we can hope and we can point to this, can’t we? After all, St. Paul reminds us this week that our primary ministry is the “ministry of reconciliation.”

This may not be something we can fully achieve in this life and perhaps God already knows that we may not. But, he puts the small examples and voices in front of us to light our way and provide reason to pause and wonder. Pope Francis tells us that “‘mercy’ derives from misericordis, which means opening one’s heart to wretchedness. And immediately we go to the Lord: mercy is the divine attitude which embraces, it is God’s giving himself to us, accepting us, and bowing to forgive.” Wow! This is nothing about power, domination, control, punishment, retribution, or anything else we associate with admitting our wrongs! It is not even God saying that we must bow down to worship him. It is quite the contrary! God bows to forgive us!

The prodigal son took a big chance but he bumped right up against his wretchedness and had nowhere else to turn. I am sure that what he met in his father may have surprised him. It certainly surprised his brother! (We’ll leave that for another reflection!) What the son met in his father is mercy. We can even go so far to say that what he met was unconditional, unreserved love! God’s name is mercy because mercy is love! And, the father’s reaction in the parable is God’s reaction to us when we go to him and square off our relationship with him and put him first: celebrate and rejoice! Then, what happens after that moment remains to be seen. If it is an authentic genuine return, we will encounter that next moment reconciled and live the rest of our lives and all the rest of our decisions with the proper perspective. We will always bring ourselves to taste God’s mercy. After all, the psalmist today reminds us of that as well: “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.”

Last week we mourned the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. He had his feet in two worlds, the secular and the religious. He felt the tension but moved forward with his relationships intact. We cannot figure our relationships out by simply giving a cordial nod to a belief in God’s merciful presence. Being a Christian is much more than that. It is not about associating with one church or another or whether one holds the letter of the law as stipulated by one’s faith. It is about an active, real relationship with God and a profound belief and acceptance of the faith that Jesus had it right when showing us the path of love and how to live with one another. Jesus showed us God’s mercy.

Our first reading from Joshua shows us what happens to the Israelites when they enter into their true homeland and the manna ceases. They are able to eat abundantly from the land they now occupied, the land they called home. We too shall eat abundantly when we come home to God. No longer will we be wandering, wondering where to find interior sustenance to fill our hunger or rest from the weary burdens of life. We will be focused, centered, and embraced by love, God’s merciful love. God’s name is love.

Pope Francis aptly quotes G. K. Chesterton: “When Man ceases to worship God he does not worship nothing but worships everything.” It seems that this is where many in our world have gotten themselves. Pope Francis also remarks that Pope Pius XII said, “The tragedy of our age was that it had lost its sense of sin, the awareness of sin.” Too many of the things we have created are used as cushions that keep us from experiencing the truth of our wretchedness, our sinfulness. It is harder today to “hit that brick wall” that can awake us. The simplicity of the day may have made it is easier for the prodigal son to do so. Pope Francis also states that humanity is in need of mercy “because humanity is wounded, deeply wounded. Either it does not know how to cure its wounds or it believes that it’s not possible to cure them.” I would add that an even sadder possibility is that many human beings don’t even know that they are wounded or don’t want to know! This is the stumbling block and the reason why our ministry of reconciliation and commitment to preaching by our lives are so important. Many in our world need to learn what it means to be human and how to stay on course.

Have you thought of going to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation lately?

Rev. Mark S. Suslenko


Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father,
and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him.
Show us your face and we will be saved.
Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money;
the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things;
made Peter weep after his betrayal,
and assured Paradise to the repentant thief.
Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman:
“If you knew the gift of God!”
You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy:
let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified.
You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness
in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error:
let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.
Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing,
so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord,
and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor,
proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed,
and restore sight to the blind.
We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy,
you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.

——Pope Francis’ Prayer for Jubilee Year of Mercy.

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