From the first Sunday of Lent we wish to walk with you. In this “time of Grace and of Conversion,” we propose simple ideas for reflection: Lent, Easter, and the Resurrection
“Our home” are not just beautiful words, but it is the truth we have in front of our eyes every day. It’s the miracle that takes place in our lives that are rebuilt in God’s mercy. We rise again and we rejoice thanks to each sacrifice, our fight against evil and temptation, and our serious and faithful commitment of our journey in Community.
Easter is a journey! We cannot rise again in an instant, but we have to take one step at a time every day: You must get up and start walking, experiencing the hardships of the journey. You also live the joy of the journey! The path you take is a place of struggle, of temptation, of “lamentations,” but it is also the place where God makes Himself close to us through His Providence.
This is the message we must grasp at the beginning of Lent: Our prayers and fasting, renonciation and our commitments must lead us to new life. With an open heart that is capable of forgiving, we live an incarnate charity of each day. First of all, Lent is the power of God’s mercy. It’s the power of a Father who awaits our “return” home, which melts our chains and breaks every yoke.
Every Sunday we will propose a theme and a commitment for the new week, together with Sunday’s Gospel and other useful material for personal reflection.
The following is the text of the Message of the Holy Father Francis for Lent 2019, on the theme:
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God” (Rom 8:19):
Message of the Holy Father:
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God” (Rom 8:19)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Each year, through the Mother Church, God “gives us this joyful season when we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with our minds and heart renewed… as we recall the great events that gave us new life in Christ” (Preface of Lent I). We can thus journey from Easter to Easter towards the fulfilment of the salvation we have already received as a result of Christ’s paschal mystery – “for in hope we were saved” (Rom 8:24). This mystery of salvation, already at work in us during our earthly lives, is a dynamic process that also embraces history and all of creation. As Saint Paul says, “the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God” (Rom 8:19). In this perspective, I would like to offer a few reflections to accompany our journey of conversion this coming Lent.
The redemption of creation
The celebration of the Paschal Triduum of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection, the culmination of the liturgical year, calls us yearly to undertake a journey of preparation, in the knowledge that our being conformed to Christ (cf. Rom 8:29) is a priceless gift of God’s mercy.
When we live as children of God, redeemed, led by the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 8:14) and capable of acknowledging and obeying God’s law, beginning with the law written on our hearts and in nature, we also benefit creation by cooperating in its redemption. That is why Saint Paul says that creation eagerly longs for the revelation of the children of God; in other words, that all those who enjoy the grace of Jesus’ paschal mystery may experience its fulfilment in the redemption of the human body itself. When the love of Christ transfigures the lives of the saints in spirit, body and soul, they give praise to God. Through prayer, contemplation and art, they also include other creatures in that praise, as we see admirably expressed in the “Canticle of the Creatures” by Saint Francis of Assisi (cf. Laudato Si’, 87). Yet in this world, the harmony generated by redemption is constantly threatened by the negative power of sin and death.
The destructive power of sin
Indeed, when we fail to live as children of God, we often behave in a destructive way towards our neighbours and other creatures – and ourselves as well – since we begin to think more or less consciously that we can use them as we will. Intemperance then takes the upper hand: we start to live a life that exceeds those limits imposed by our human condition and nature itself. We yield to those untrammelled desires that the Book of Wisdom sees as typical of the ungodly, those who act without thought for God or hope for the future (cf. 2:1-11). Unless we tend constantly towards Easter, towards the horizon of the Resurrection, the mentality expressed in the slogans “I want it all and I want it now!” and “Too much is never enough”, gains the upper hand.
The root of all evil, as we know, is sin, which from its first appearance has disrupted our communion with God, with others and with creation itself, to which we are linked in a particular way by our body. This rupture of communion with God likewise undermines our harmonious relationship with the environment in which we are called to live, so that the garden has become a wilderness (cf. Gen 3:17-18). Sin leads man to consider himself the god of creation, to see himself as its absolute master and to use it, not for the purpose willed by the Creator but for his own interests, to the detriment of other creatures.
Once God’s law, the law of love, is forsaken, then the law of the strong over the weak takes over. The sin that lurks in the human heart (cf. Mk 7:20-23) takes the shape of greed and unbridled pursuit of comfort, lack of concern for the good of others and even of oneself. It leads to the exploitation of creation, both persons and the environment, due to that insatiable covetousness which sees every desire as a right and sooner or later destroys all those in its grip.
The healing power of repentance and forgiveness
Creation urgently needs the revelation of the children of God, who have been made “a new creation”. For “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17). Indeed, by virtue of their being revealed, creation itself can celebrate a Pasch, opening itself to a new heaven and a new earth (cf. Rev 21:1). The path to Easter demands that we renew our faces and hearts as Christians through repentance, conversion and forgiveness, so as to live fully the abundant grace of the paschal mystery.
This “eager longing”, this expectation of all creation, will be fulfilled in the revelation of the children of God, that is, when Christians and all people enter decisively into the “travail” that conversion entails. All creation is called, with us, to go forth “from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom 8:21). Lent is a sacramental sign of this conversion. It invites Christians to embody the paschal mystery more deeply and concretely in their personal, family and social lives, above all by fasting, prayer and almsgiving.
Fasting, that is, learning to change our attitude towards others and all of creation, turning away from the temptation to “devour” everything to satisfy our voracity and being ready to suffer for love, which can fill the emptiness of our hearts. Prayer, which teaches us to abandon idolatry and the self-sufficiency of our ego, and to acknowledge our need of the Lord and his mercy.
Almsgiving, whereby we escape from the insanity of hoarding everything for ourselves in the illusory belief that we can secure a future that does not belong to us. And thus to rediscover the joy of God’s plan for creation and for each of us, which is to love him, our brothers and sisters, and the entire world, and to find in this love our true happiness.
Dear brothers and sisters, the “lenten” period of forty days spent by the Son of God in the desert of creation had the goal of making it once more that garden of communion with God that it was before original sin (cf. Mk 1:12-13; Is 51:3). May our Lent this year be a journey along that same path, bringing the hope of Christ also to creation, so that it may be “set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom 8:21). Let us not allow this season of grace to pass in vain! Let us ask God to help us set out on a path of true conversion. Let us leave behind our selfishness and self-absorption, and turn to Jesus’ Pasch. Let us stand beside our brothers and sisters in need, sharing our spiritual and material goods with them. In this way, by concretely welcoming Christ’s victory over sin and death into our lives, we will also radiate its transforming power to all of creation.
From the Vatican, 4 October 2018
Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread. Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’”Then he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. The devil said to him, “I shall give to you all this power and their glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me.”Jesus said to him in reply, “It is written:‘You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.’Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written:‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you and ‘With their hands they will support you,lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ Jesus said to him in reply, “It also says, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’ When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.
The Gospel of the Lord
Words from Pope Francis
On our daily journey, especially in times of difficulty, in the battle against the evil that is outside and within us, the Lord is not far away, he is by our side. We battle with him beside us, and our weapon is prayer which makes us feel his presence beside us, his mercy and also his help. But the battle against evil is a long and hard one; it requires patience and endurance
Saint Peter’s Square
Sunday, 20 October 2013
Points of Reflection
– What do I think in moments of temptation?
-Do I let myself become discouraged and afraid, closing in on myself, or do I fight to stay open?
– How do I deal with these moments?
-Do I resort to the powerful weapon of prayer and seek answers in the Word of God and in sincere spiritual dialogues?
– Am I able to view the situations that I face in a positive way in order to learn how to win over evil?
I commit myself to the Recite the Apostles Creed daily. I will try to recite it more with my heart and renew my profession of faith to be able to overcome evil with the grace of the strength received in the sacrament of Baptism.
Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.
The Gospel of the Lord
Luke 9:28-36, (37-43a)
Words from Pope Francis
What is the Transfiguration of Jesus? It is a preliminary Paschal apparition.
Jesus took with him the three disciples Peter, James and John, “and led them up a high mountain” (9:2); and there, for a moment, he showed them his glory, the glory of the Son of God. This event of the Transfiguration thus allowed the disciples to confront Jesus’ Passion in a positive way, without being overwhelmed. They saw him as he would be after the Passion: glorious. And in this way Jesus prepared them for the trial. The Transfiguration helps the disciples, and us too, to understand that the Passion of Christ is a mystery of suffering, but it is above all a gift of love, of infinite love on Jesus’ part. The event of Jesus transfiguring himself on the mountain enables us to better understand his Resurrection. In order to understand the Mystery of the Cross, it is necessary to know ahead of time that the One who suffers and who is glorified is not only a man, but is the Son of God who, with his love faithful to the end, saved us. In this way the Father renews his messianic declaration about the Son, which he had made previously on the bank of the River Jordan after his Baptism, exhorting: “listen to him” (v. 7). The disciples are called to follow the Master with trust, with hope, notwithstanding his death; the divinity of Jesus must be made manifest precisely on the Cross, precisely in his dying “in that way”, so that here Mark the Evangelist places in the mouth of the centurion the profession of faith: “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (15:39).
Let us now turn in prayer to the Virgin Mary, the human creature transfigured interiorly by Christ’s grace. Let us confidently entrust ourselves to her maternal support in order to continue with faith and generosity the journey of Lent.
Saint Peter’s Square
Sunday February 25, 2018
Sparks of Light
God Transforms Us
Our Community is founded and developed through prayer. Your first month in community you don’t understand anything. Your second or third month you start looking around you and you ask “What are they doing? Who are these people? Who are they praying to? What are they doing?” When you come to your fifth of sixth month you’ll understand on your own because you’ve changed! You’ve spoken to and communicated with a living person- The One who saves you! The One who saved you. Let’s allow ourselves to be encompassed by Him. We are certain that He will change our lives! Whoever comes to the point of this transformation of their heart and mind, of their affections- in freedom and goodness; you cannot say that you are the same as you were before. When will you realize this? When you start to pray with your heart. We have found the fountain of the one who will change our lives from sadness to happiness. From the wickedness of violence to compassion, goodness, and peace. This is what we are becoming. I am talking about the things that are alive in you.
Points of Reflection
– Do I let Jesus enter my daily situations so that He can make everything brighter? Can I have a transfigured and enlightened view on the things that I experience?
– Do I remember that I am made for eternity and promise to use the time given to me waiting for the Resurrection, or do I think life is all here?
– Do I believe that Jesus walks with me, struggles with me and is always present and capable of turning my darkness into light?
I commit myself to contemplate the mystery of Christ’s suffering, in His love that is faithful until the end.
Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”
The Gospel of the Lord
Words from Pope Francis
The fig tree “represents infertility, that is to say, a barren life, incapable of giving anything”, because that type of person “lives for himself; undisturbed, selfish”, who doesn’t want “problems”. In the Gospel passage, Jesus curses the fig tree for being infertile, “because it made no effort to bear fruit”. Therefore, it symbolizes the “person who does nothing to help, who lives only for herself, so she wants for nothing”.
Such people “become neurotic” in the end. And “Jesus condemns the spiritual barrenness, the spiritual selfishness” of those who think: “I live for myself: so I never want for anything, let the others make do for themselves!”.
MORNING MEDITATION IN THE CHAPEL OF THE DOMUS SANCTAE MARTHAE
Friday, 29 May 2015
Sparks of Light
“Let’s Not Make the Father Wait Any Longer”
There are too many people here who are making the Father wait for a long time! Please, let’t not make him wait any longer! He has gifts, mercy, presents for each one of us that He holds on to, but we have a hard time without these gifts. He has established these gifts for you. These gifts are patience, goodness, peace! The gift of peace is there, and we live battling in our hearts. We know where we need to go in order to have peace. Peace is Jesus of Nazareth, it’s Blessed Jesus who we meet through our dialogue in confession. It’s a condemnation to remain with these things that are rotting in for a long time in your heart, mind, and memory without going to tell Jesus in confession. Let’s go toward this source of mercy, peace, and the embrace of the Father with humility. We can’t go saying “well, I never killed anyone.” or “my husband has done everything under the sun, and he also betrayed me.” You can’t go to confess your husband’s sins. You have to start by saying, “why does my husband have a mistress?” You looked at everything he did that you couldn’t help. First you have to think about yourself, going deep. Each one of us have to reflect, going deep inside of ourselves. “Why did I do this?” If we go saying “I could have done more, I could have done better. I’ve received so many gifts but I’ve wasted them due to my ambition, pride, and self sufficiency- feeling like I didn’t need anything from anyone.” You realized that this left you poor and alone, a waif. Today I recognize that helping others and being helped is my great richness. True richness is human dialogue, it’s the understanding of the heart. Let’s go toward this fountain of mercy, love, and forgiveness that the Father wants to pour upon us.
Points of Reflection
– Do I recognize the living presence of Jesus in my heart, in my family, in the environment where I live?
Do I notice His mercy and patience with me?
Am I patient and merciful in my family or with the people I live with?
– How much does my behavior towards others reflect the way that Jesus treats me?
When I’m faced with difficulty, am I hard and sharp or am I flexible with a heart full of love?
I will dedicate fifteen minutes of my time to read the Gospels and learn more about the attitude of the heart of Jesus, to be able to follow it with more authenticity.
The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to him, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”So to them he addressed this parable. “A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’ So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began. Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’ He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. 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.’”
The Gospel of the Lord
Words from Pope Francis
Jesus’ words encourage us never to despair. I think of the worried moms and dads watching their children move away, taking dangerous paths. I think of the parish priests and catechists who wonder at times if their work is in vain. But I also think of the person in prison, who feels his life is over. I think of those who have made mistakes and cannot manage to envision the future, of those who hunger for mercy and forgiveness and believe they don’t deserve it…. In any situation of life, I must not forget that I will never cease to be a child of God, to be a son of the Father who loves me and awaits my return. Even in the worst situation of life, God waits for me, God wants to embrace me, God expects me.
May 11, 2016
Sparks of Light
“God is Mercy”
Who is God? God is Mercy, God is love. His specialities in love are infinite. Love is passion, it’s a gift, it’s tenderness, it worries, it’s attentive, it’s prevention. We were generated, wanted, and conceived from the mind of God who is love, and nothing else. Love is everything that joins our heart with that of another. Above all, love is the reality, the value, the necessity that allows you to be yourself. It keeps you good. There is certainly someone here among us who must recognize that he could have been more affectionate. We have to ask God to allow us to fall in love with love. To fall in love with love! Love is the university that teaches you the small and profound secrets inside of you that no school or university can teach you. Fall in love with love! We have come from love, we were conceived by love. We were invented originally from love. We live because we are loved. I think Jesus accepted to come into the world to free us from our sins because we would have been enslaved! He came because we He wants us to be joyful, He wants us to be happy, He wants us to be in love! He wants us to fall in love!
Points of Reflection
– Are there people I need to forgive?
-Do I commit myself to forgive and ask for forgiveness?
-Do I run away from pain when I’m confronted with my mistakes or others mistakes?
– Do I recognize and thank the Lord for the times He has helped me to forgive, giving me back my peace?
– Do I feel that God is my Father? Do I feel His forgiveness and His Mercy, or am I afraid of God?
I bring in before Jesus in prayer all of the people I need to forgive or who must forgive me, firmly believing that Jesus can come into those wounds and renew and restore everything!