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“From the shining cloud the Father’s voice is heard:

This is my beloved Son, listen to him” (cf. Mt. 17:5)

The Trinity is manifested on the mountain of the Transfiguration.  The Father’s voice is heard, the Spirit is manifested in an overshadowing cloud, and the Son is transfigured on top of the mountain.  And what does the Father say but, “This is my beloved Son.”

God offers us the chance to enter into the very relationship of love that exists between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

What will it be like to be loved perfectly in heaven? In what ways can we better “listen to Him”?

Lenten Reminder

bryanGuest Blogger:  Bryan McNamara

For Catholics, Lent is viewed as a reminder, often portrayed through symbolism. On Ash Wednesday, students swarmed to the one of several masses mentioned at St. Dominic’s Chapel in order to participate in the mass and receive ashes on their foreheads. For these students, the ashes serve as a reminder of purification and sorrow for sins. During the day, I had several of my friends ask, “Which mass are you going to today?” Although I tended to find some way around the topic of conversation, all I could think my head was: Well, I am not.

During my four years at Providence College, the Lenten season has produced a different sort of symbolism than many other students. Ash Wednesday is one of those days that reminds me of my status as a minority on campus in terms of a religion. As a Protestant, Ash Wednesday and Lent on campus does not give me the same gratification it has for many students. Regardless, I do celebrate the Lenten season as a Protestant but not in the same way as many of my peers, choosing to keep my thoughts and prayers on an individual level. By walking around staring as what seems like every student with ashes on their forehead, I am ultimately reminded of my own religious background.

Being a Protestant at a Catholic college allows me to see the greater reason for Lent. As a means of spiritual renewal and repentance for sins, Lent serves us to prepare for the Easter season and ultimately celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Regardless of one’s background, it is a time for reflection to be shared by all Christians.

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“So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48)

When read out of context, this line in today’s Gospel can feel incredibly overwhelming. Be perfect like God? But when read within the Gospel, what Jesus means by perfection is to love without partiality, to see the whole of a person – not just the parts that annoy you, but as a person worthy of love. Because that’s how God sees us – imperfect, yes, but loved.

Whom are you struggling to love in your life right now? Is it a co-worker, a student in class, perhaps even a close friend or family member with whom you’ve had a disagreement?

Ask God for the grace to love that person, to see them as God does.

The Meaning of Lent

MeghanGuest Blogger: Meghan Lescault

As an aspiring philologist, I cannot help but incorporate a linguistics lesson into most of my musings, so I ask that you bear with me here while I indulge myself in the thrilling exploration of word etymologies.  Our English term for the liturgical season of the forty days leading up to Easter, “Lent,” is derived from the Middle English lente and the Old English lencten, both meaning “spring.”  These variations all stem from the same Germanic root compound langa-tinaz or “long days,” referring to the increased appearance of sunlight throughout springtime.  Don’t worry—there really is a point to this!

It is quite fitting that this liturgical season of Lent receives its name from the temperate season of spring.  Although the solemn preparation for the Easter season seems to contrast with the bright colors and the dulcet tones of the vernal equinox, these concurrent periods complement each other beautifully with their surprisingly similar customs and practices.  Both Lent and spring present themselves as a time to clear our slates and to start anew, a time for rejuvenation and for resurrection.

When spring rolls around each year, many ambitious people undertake the daunting household task of “spring cleaning.”  Winter has witnessed an accumulation of unnecessary clutter, and now the warmer days of spring bring the opportunity to get down to business and to get the house in tip-top shape.  In a similar way, Lent can be seen as a time of “spring cleaning” for the soul.  Full of our own personal clutter, we enter into the season of Lent as penitents, seeking to cleanse our souls.  We rid ourselves of this clutter through the Sacrament of Penance, and we experience rebirth through God’s saving grace.  As our homes receive a makeover in anticipation of the coming summer months, so too do our souls undergo a cleansing in anticipation of the resurrection of our Savior.

As we progress through the days of spring, the snow finally begins to melt, and we start to shed layers.  First the hats and scarves go, followed by the gloves, and finally, we say good-bye to the big, puffy coat.  We experience a similar process of shedding in Lent, as we remove the layers that are preventing us from a deeper relationship with God.  We are called to prayer in a special way during this season in preparation for Jesus’ resurrection.  We shed further layers as we are cleansed through Reconciliation and atonement.  It is only when we are freed from this clutter and these excess layers that we can come to prepare ourselves for Easter.

The etymological and temporal connections between Lent and spring allow certain parallels to be made between the two seasons.  Spring is traditionally regarded as a time symbolic of birth and growth, predominantly the birth and growth of nature.  Lent encourages the same symbols within a spiritual context.  Through our own rebirth and rejuvenation, we can witness the beauty of the ultimate resurrection, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

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“As I live, says the Lord, I do not desire the death of the sinner, but rather that he turn back and live” (Ez. 33:11)

This is the reason for the Cross—not a means of condemnation, but a means of redemption. On the Cross, Christ shows us how to live out all the virtues: charity, patience, humility, obedience, contempt for earthly things, etc. In giving us this example of virtue, He shows us the path to re-order our disordered hearts and minds so that we might draw back to Him and receive the fruits of His redemption.

How can the Cross give depth to your Lenten sacrifices? How can it draw you deeper into a life a virtue?

Call to Action

CJGuest Blogger: CJ Groeschke

A very wise priest once told me, “no where in the Bible does it say that Lent is a season that requires us to give-up one of our favorite splurges, instead Lent is a season where we should become ‘poor’.” Why should we acknowledge our own splurges, when these 40 days can be use to make a difference?  Making a difference is not all that difficult; you don’t have to go off to another country whose population is suffering from malnutrition, but rather examine your own backyard. There are poor and suffering in every community, and by becoming closer to those who are inflicted, the closer we come to God. Giving something up is great but if that is all you are doing than you are missing the point. Instead of giving something up you should devote yourself to community service and by devote I mean invest some more of your time into improving the community.

The best way to enrich your life is by helping others; ultimately it is those who are the least fortunate who are most like Jesus. Any act of kindness is much more recognized than forgoing your favorite treat for 4o days. Lent is a call to action, so try getting involved. Do not pass-up the call to action, it is an opportunity to change someone’s life (including your own); the smallest actions have the greatest impacts on someone, so no action is to small. Look at the Lenten calendar for service opportunities that will help you grow as both a person and a Catholic. Let’s do something that will bring the Kingdom of God to Providence.

In the words of the Rolling Stones “Time is on our side,” so lets change the world one small act of kindness at a time. How do you want to be remembered, by your action or lack thereof? Experiencing your own humility is something that takes courage. So do not cower during this Lenten season.  Instead take the call to act.

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O Solemn Promise of sign and wonder, whose loving arm protects and restores, remember me and teach me the truth of your heart. Let me not rue the day; but rather, let me rejoice, profess you and believe.

O Timeless Voice of pledge and power who does not hold back, but provides for and blesses the obedient faithful: I ask you to speak. Speak to the closed corners of my heart, and permit me to walk, live, and sing in the presence of your Christ.

O Great Arbiter of Order and Peace, you call every generation to live by the law of your love, to abide by the governance of your grace, and to stand by the command of your Christ.  Let your mercy rain down upon, flow through, and wash away all that would keep me from upholding your holy Word.

Amen.

Cry Out with Joy: Year B

Responsorial Psalms, Gospel Acclamations and Universal Prayers for the Liturgy of the Word

© 2013, 2014 by GIA Publications, Inc.

Stay Awake With Me

vanesaGuest Blogger: Vanesa Zuleta

I’ve always struggled with Lent. I find myself many times too concerned in letting people know that yes I am giving up social media for Lent so please texts only. Or I find myself on the 20th day midpoint mark of Lent dragging myself along itching to just sign into Twitter so that I can keep up with the world, or complaining that I can’t make it so I should just give up now. I find myself living for the hype of Ash Wednesday, and then zoning out for the next 40 days until I can hop on the #YayItsEaster bandwagon. The funny thing is (well its not that funny) that once Easter comes around I feel like I’m missing something. I’m standing in church in my new Sunday dress, everyone is happy, the sun is shining, and yet I feel as if I’ve missed out on something.

That something is the beauty of the suffering that occurs in Lent.

Recently in prayer The Lord had placed on my heart the passage at the Garden of Gethsemane. Let me set the scene for you: The disciples and Christ have just shared what Jesus knows will be their Last Supper. Jesus knowing that His time was near calls his closest friends and simply asks of them this one favor: “Sit here while I go over there and pray” (Matthew 26:36). Then he goes and prays to the Lord, in sorrow, in distress.

And when He returns His disciples, His closest friends are asleep.

So He asks of them “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?”

“Could you not stay awake with me?”

This Lent this is the question placed upon my heart. Can I not stay awake with the Lord for one hour?

Can I not be by His side and instead of complaining about my suffering, my small sacrifice, can I not instead share in His suffering to then share in His Resurrection Joy?

In the past, Lent for me has been something too sad, too depressing to experience. I just wanted to get straight to the happy part where Easter comes along and I find myself once more all dressed up in my Sunday best. But here’s the thing: we cannot forget the sacrifice of the Lord. We cannot forget the pain and the suffering. In Lent we come to know the Lord’s suffering heart and with Him we too suffer. To remember the sacrifice is to remember that we have in fact been freed from sin and slavery.

This Lent the Lord asks me, He asks you: “Will you stay awake with me?”

Whether it’s through reflection, prayer, daily mass, adoration, the rosary, fasting, the Lord asks this one request of us: Will we stay awake with Him?

Lord I pray we shall.

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The Cross of Jesus

Come, O God, renew your people,

We who long to see your face.

Strengthen hearts that have grown feeble;

Fill our lives with truth and grace.

Only you can win our freedom;

Only you can bring us peace.

Only in the cross of Jesus

Will the captives find release.

Deep within create a new heart;

Melt away the winter chill.

Help us now to make a new start;

Help us now to know your will.

Washed in waters of forgiveness,

Cleansed in waters of new birth,

Lead us to the cross of Jesus,

Bringing life to all the earth.

In the darkness that surrounds us

We have lost you from our sight.

Even now your love has found us,

We embrace the powers of night.

Scatter now our deepest darkness;

Guide our hearts into the light.

Join us to the cross of Jesus.

Help us set our living right.

Text: Francis Patrick O’Brien, b. 1958

© 1996, GIA Publications, Inc.

Fasting

Guest Blogger: Nick Mazzucca

nick mazzuccaLent is a time of prayer, service and self-analysis during the 40-day period before the Resurrection of Christ. During this time, we are encouraged to approach our faith in a new and refreshing way. As we get to this time of the year, things start to accumulate and take away from our time with the Lord. Whether those things are midterms, community obligations, or the frustrations that come with snow, we need this time to pause and reflect on the strength of our own faith.

Lent is not about what you give up, but rather what you give to others. We associate Lent as a time of fasting—giving up things that may not be good for us. These things range from person to person, but center around our own bad habits that we may need to kick. In scripture, Isaiah gives new meaning in the call to fasting in our daily lives. After reflecting on this scripture passage, I came to the realization that God cares more about what’s in my heart then He does about the candy bar that I choose to give up for 40 days.

 

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:

to loose the chains of injustice

and untie the cords of the yoke,

to set the oppressed free

and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry

and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—

when you see the naked, to clothe them,

and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn,

and your healing will quickly appear;

then your righteousness will go before you,

and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;

you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”

(Isaiah 58: 6-9)

 

God promises that change happens in our own hearts and minds when we embrace a true fast by setting captives free, sharing food with the hungry, giving clothes and shelter to those in need. In making these daily sacrifices to others, we are able to heal our own troubled hearts and realize that He is with us.

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