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Resources for your journey through Lent

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Lent

Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, is March 1.
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The Friar Works office is once again offering a free pocket-size booklet from the editors of St. Anthony Messenger magazine: Lent with St. Francis, 2017: Meditations and Prayers for Each Day of Lent.

Lent bookletIt is a collection of prayers and reflections to assist you each day on your Lenten journey adapted from Peace and Good: Through the Year with Francis of Assisi by Fr. Pat McCloskey, OFM. ©2014 Franciscan Media

NOTE: If you are currently on our mailing list, you received one with your January newsletter.

If you are not on our mailing list or would like an extra copy for yourself or a family member or friend, please send an email to friarworks@franciscan.org with your POSTAL mailing address and we will get one to you right away as long as our supply lasts.

Offer good only in the United States and Canada.  For other countries, send us an email and we’ll send you an electronic copy.

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Franciscan Media publishes several books to guide you on your journey through Lent.  We listed just a few of their titles below.  Visit their Lent Collection page.

Sensing GodSensing God: Learning to Meditate During Lent, by Laurence Freeman.

Many people feel drawn to what meditation offers (quiet, reflection, stillness, time alone with God), but few have tried it. Some Christians even feel that they shouldn’t meditate. In Sensing God, monk, priest, and spiritual teacher Laurence Freeman may just change some minds. And so will the Holy Spirit, Freeman says – if they begin to meditate for a few minutes each day.

A practical introduction and guide to this ancient Christian practice, Sensing God includes easy-to-follow instructions, guidance and support, as well as 46 enriching daily reflections on the Gospels, highlighting their meaning and continued relevance for living today.

Laurence Freeman, OSB, is a Benedictine monk and director of the World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM)

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Lent PopeThe Hope of Lent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis, by Diane M. Houdek

With prayer reflections drawn from the words of Pope Francis, this Lenten companion helps you prepare for the Easter season. With Scripture citations for each day of the season, selections from the pope’s writings, and ways to bring the pope’s message into your life on judgment, justice, forgiveness and mercy, The Hope for Lent will lend a moment’s meditation to discover the extraordinary in the ordinary, to be surprised by God’s mercy when we least expect it.

Diane M. Houdek is the author of The Joy of Advent, Pope Francis and Our Call to Joy, Lent with St. Francis, and Advent with St. Francis. She is the digital book editor for Franciscan Media.

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Teresa-21Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta: Daily Meditations, Heidi Hess Saxton

“Thoughtfulness is the beginning of great sanctity,” observed Mother Teresa, one of the most beloved Catholic women of all time, popularly acclaimed a saint in her own lifetime. This small book of daily reflections for Lent and Holy Week celebrates the humility, charity and devotion of Saint Teresa of Calcutta.

Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta offers a short Scripture passage for each day, a brief meditation with a quote or story from the life of this remarkable woman, plus reflection questions and a short prayer to begin or end the day. Read alone or with a small group, this is a helpful resource for reflecting upon the mercy of God—and modeling the generous heart of this saint from Calcutta in our own lives.

Heidi Hess Saxton is a Catholic editor, wife, and mother, and is author of several books.  Heidi is editorial director of Servant, an imprint of Franciscan Media. She writes for adoptive, foster, and special-needs families at “A Mother on the Road Less Traveled.”

Visit Franciscan Media’s Lenten Collection for these and more resources.

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The Church: home-base of second chances

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Musings from Fr. Dave

Palm Sunday

 

With today’s liturgies, we begin the most sacred time of our church year: Holy Week begins, blending into the Sacred Triduum (Holy Thursday through Easter Sunday.)

The Palm Leaf by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905)

The Palm Leaf by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905)

There are two Gospels proclaimed at our Masses this weekend, both from Matthew. The first: Jesus’ wonderful entrance into Jerusalem, the second: Matthew’s account of the Passion of Jesus.

The contrasts today are stark!  From spirits soaring high in triumph, to the dark scene of Jesus’ crucifixion.

As you hold blessed palm branches in your hands at today’s Mass, let your imaginations fly, as you listen to all the readings. Those stark contrasts are much like the ups and downs of our own lives. We have memorable celebrations as well as heart rending troubles as we walk life’s path.

I beg you to remember well, that the Roman Catholic Church is the home-base of second chances.

Jesus lived and died while on mother earth so that we may live.

His Resurrection and return to His Father is His eternal promise to every one of us.

When you think all is lost … the Holy Spirit that dwells within you brings peace and all that is good to your troubled spirit.

Everything that we are as Roman Catholic Christians is contained in Holy Week.

Please pray for all R.C.I.A. members as they prepare to fully enter into the church this coming Saturday evening at Easter Vigil Mass.

Have a prayerful and blessed Holy Week!

Love, Fr. Dave

Fr. Dave Kobak, OFM, is the pastor of Holy Family Church in Oldenburg, Indiana

 

We want to pray for you.
Share your prayers with us and
our online community at our Prayer Page.
May this your most joyous Lent and Easter ever.
God Bless you.

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Real Men Don’t Cry?

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The Raising of Lazarus by Rembrandt (1630) Public Domain

The Raising of Lazarus by Rembrandt (1630) Public Domain

5th Sunday of Lent
April 6, 2014

 

This week there is another long Gospel. It is the beautiful story of the Raising of Lazarus.   Easter is getting closer; only a few weeks away.

The readings you hear today deal with our own mortality, (Ezekiel 37:12-14), and Jesus’ promise to every one of us for Eternal Life, (Romans 8:8-11).  The people of Ezekiel’s time looked forward to freedom from oppression. The Letter to the Romans speaks of “The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit”.

In John’s Gospel, (John 11:1-45), Jesus weeps over the death of His close friend Lazarus.

I don’t know how many times I have heard the expression, “Real men don’t cry.” Today’s Gospel tosses that saying in the trash heap. If Jesus wept over the death of a friend, what makes anyone think that that emotion is weak?

Being the true Son of God, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, and restored life to His friend.  The power of God’s Word can restore life in us as well.  Here is something worth pondering in these later days of Lent.  What has “died” in you? What can the Holy Spirit restore in your life?

Fr. Dave Kobak, OFM

Fr. Dave Kobak, OFM

All of us have dark areas in our lives; places that we would rather not think about or revisit.  Besides the fear of physical death, there may be things in your own spirit that have died and need to be brought back to life. In these waning days of Lent, place your trust in the Holy Spirit that dwells within you.

Being chronically human, we think that there is much that is impossible to accomplish. Deepen your faith!  Nothing is impossible with God.  Jesus wept for His friend Lazarus.  Jesus weeps when He sees you bound in fear. Permit yourself to allow Jesus to restore what has died in you.

Love,
Father Dave

Fr. Dave Kobak, OFM, is pastor of Holy Family Church in Oldenburg, Indiana.

We want to pray for you.
Share your prayers with us and
our online community at our Prayer Page.
May this your most joyous Lent and Easter ever.
God Bless you.

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Waters of Eternal Life

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Baptism of Christ
Musings from Fr. Dave
Third Sunday of Lent
March 23,  2014

Welcome spring!

I am sure that everyone is happy to say goodbye to winter. I have been thinking about what to plant in my garden this year; I think I will go a little simpler this time around. The soil ought to be much better too, all the grounds from my wake up morning coffees have been steeping in the garden all winter long.

As we anticipate the warmer weather to come, The Word this week also comforts us with stories of clean cold water refreshing the thirsty.

The ancient Hebrews were refreshed by water from the rock.

The woman at the well was refreshed by a different kind of water … the waters of eternal life that Jesus spoke of … both to her and to you and me.

Our beautiful Baptismal Font symbolizes the water that Jesus speaks of. The Paschal candle rises up from that water.

As we continue on in our Lenten season, and are blessed with more Baptisms each week, allow the good grace of our own Baptisms to shine out. Baptism is such an easy thing to overlook or take for granted. It is a powerful sacrament, one that opens the flood gates of God’s Grace upon us. Lent is about Baptism, and the impact it has on us as Roman Catholic Christians.

Fr. Dave Kobak, OFM

Fr. Dave Kobak, OFM

Our R.C.I.A. class is eagerly waiting to be fully received into the church. Please keep them in your prayers as they continue to prepare themselves.

Before you know it, the spring blooms will be here. As spring refreshes mother nature, allow the Holy Spirit to refresh you too.

Count your blessings!
Love,

Fr. Dave

Fr. Dave Kobak, OFM, is the pastor of Holy Family Church in Oldenburg, Indiana. http://holyfamilychurcholdenburgin.com/

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The Beloved Disciple: It’s All About Love

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Excerpt from, Lent With the Saints: Daily Reflections, © Greg Friedman, OFM

Acts 10:34a, 37—43; Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Colossians: 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8; John 20:1-9

 

‘St. John the Evangelist’ (Detail) by Alonzo Cano (1636) Public Domain

In 1984 singer Tina Turner had a comeback hit with her recording of “What’s Love Got to Do With It.”  Years later I drew a lot of smiles when I began an Easter Sunday homily with the song’s title.  It’s a question that explains the Easter Gospel, John 20:1-9, which tells us that Peter and the “disciple Jesus loved” came to the tomb early on the first day of the week after hearing Mary Magdalene’s report of the empty tomb.

The Beloved Disciple arrives first but waits until Peter enters and sees Jesus’ burial wrappings neatly folded.  Peter doesn’t understand what he sees.  But the other disciple is moved to an act of faith.  He’s the disciple whom Jesus loved, and love leads to faith.  That’s what love has to do with it!

The characters in John’s Easter story show various stages of belief.  Mary Magdalene believes when she is prompted by the Lord himself, when they meet in the garden near the tomb.  Peter gets to wipe out his denials of Jesus with three affirmations of love when he encounters Jesus on the seashore (John 21).  Doubting Thomas, a fourth character in John’s resurrection story, needs visible proof before he will believe (John 20).

I can find myself in all of these gospel portraits by John.  Sometimes I want proof, like Thomas, or I need forgiveness, like Peter.  I pray that my faith can be that of the Beloved Disciple, who understood what love has to do with it. 

Today’s Action
Look back on your Lent.  How has your faith grown during this time?

Prayer
Risen Lord, thank you for sharing your life with us.  May love move us to faith, as we renew the promises of our baptism today.  Amen.

Fr. Greg Friedman, OFM, is a media producer and author of Advent With the Saints: Daily Reflections. He is host of American Catholic Radio, a program syndicated on Catholic radio stations nationwide. In 2009 his film Assisi Pilgrimage: Walking in faith With Francis and Clare appeared on PBS. Fr. Greg is also pastor of an inner-city parish in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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Clare: Walking Into the Gospel’s Challenge

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Excerpt from, Lent With the Saints: Daily Reflections, © Greg Friedman, OFM

Year A: Matthew 26:14- 27:66; Year B: Mark 14:1- 15:47; Year C: Luke 22:14-23:56

‘St. Clare’ by Simone Martini (1312-1320). Public Domain

To this day, pilgrims trace the steps of St. Clare on the evening of Palm Sunday 1212.  She left her home, in an upper level of the city of Assisi, Italy, next to the cathedral, and made her way down, down, down, through the narrow streets, coming at last to the city gate.  There, her choice to follow the gospel in poverty and surrender to God, was made definitive as she stepped out into the night.  Joined by Francis and his companions, Clare made her way to the chapel of St. Mary of the Angels, known as the Porziuncola.  Her hair was cut off, symbolic of her dedication to God, and she received the simple dress of a nun.

In a film that I made in the 1990’s about walking in the footsteps of Francis and Clare, we recreated Clare’s walk through the night on the streets of Assisi.  We could see the challenge Clare faced going into a darkened world, full of dangers.

Clare’s vocation, nurtured in her family’s home with her mother and sisters, had grown into a longing to live the gospel life in simple service.  She identified with Francis’ gospel vision, and together they forged a spiritual partnership that blossomed into a great religious family.

On this Palm Sunday, as we walk with Jesus into Jerusalem, fully aware of what awaits, let us walk with the wonder and the questions of St. Clare.

Today’s Action
Make a pilgrimage of your own today, walking the streets of your neighborhood.

Prayer
Jesus, help us enter with you into the mystery of your dying and rising.  May we reflect on the saving events of Holy Week and so come to Easter joy.  Amen.

Fr. Greg Friedman, OFM, is a media producer and author of Advent With the Saints: Daily Reflections. He is host of American Catholic Radio, a program syndicated on Catholic radio stations nationwide. In 2009 his film Assisi Pilgrimage: Walking in faith With Francis and Clare appeared on PBS. Fr. Greg is also pastor of an inner-city parish in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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Jeremiah: A New Covenant

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Excerpt from, Lent With the Saints: Daily Reflections, © Greg Friedman, OFM

Isaiah 43:16-21; Psalm 126:1-2a, 2b-3, 4-5, 6; Philippians 3:8-14; John 8:1-11

‘Jeremiah’ by Michelangelo (1508-1512) in the Sistine Chapel. Public Domain

The figure of the prophet Jeremiah walks into our liturgy in the fifth week of Lent
(on Sunday in Year B and on Friday), and his personal passion and death foreshadows that of Jesus.

In the decades before the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and carried its ruling class into exile, Jeremiah fearlessly confronted idolatry and the bad political alliances of Judah’s kings.  He paid the ultimate price after the fall of Jerusalem.  Jeremiah himself was exiled to Egypt and there, tradition tells us, was murdered by some of his own people who conspired against him.

Most poignant of all his oracles is found in Jeremiah 31.  There the Lord promises a “new covenant” to the people.  Once again, Jeremiah anticipates Jesus.  This new relationship with God will not be written on stone but on the people’s hearts.  They will live it so powerfully that no instruction will be necessary.  “’Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more’” (34b).

Those to be baptized at Easter are in the final stages of their preparation.  Their understanding of the relationship growing within them has passed beyond written teaching.  Their friendship with the Lord has been nurtured by the community, by their sponsors, and by what God has placed in their hearts.

May we support one another in these final days of Lent and search our own hearts for what God has written there.

Today’s Action
Find time to talk with those preparing for baptism in your parish and assure them of your prayers.

Prayer
Help us know you, Lord, from what you have written in our hearts.  May we turn away from sin and embrace your covenant.  Amen.

Fr. Greg Friedman, OFM, is a media producer and author of Advent With the Saints: Daily Reflections. He is host of American Catholic Radio, a program syndicated on Catholic radio stations nationwide. In 2009 his film Assisi Pilgrimage: Walking in faith With Francis and Clare appeared on PBS. Fr. Greg is also pastor of an inner-city parish in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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Fast, Pray, Give: A Franciscan Journey Through Lent

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“This year will be different” is the pledge we make to ourselves each year when Lent looms before us like a desert we must cross to get to Easter. Perhaps your using some of the resources we suggested in a previous post to guide you in your Lenten journey.  Lent is a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity to enhance our prayer life, to share our blessings, to think before we eat.

Fast, Pray, Give is a series we’re doing on our Face book page to help and encourage our followers to make this their best Lent ever.  We share video reflections from Fr.  Don Miller, OFM, on Mondays and quotes from inspirational authors on Tuesdays. Each Wednesday, friars will tell us about their community observances. Thursdays we give you fuel for fasting, with recipes from our favorite cooks. Week’s end is all about gratitude: On Fridays, learn where needs are greatest and how you can help, and on Saturdays, adopt a suggestion for anonymous acts of kindness.  The reflections of Fr. Greg Friedman, OFM, from Lent With The Saints: Daily Reflections, are posted Sunday morning’s on this blog and then shared with our Face book followers.

Join us as we continue our journey to Easter and the Resurrection of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Alleluia! He Is Risen!

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Paul: Helping to Shape Our Christian Identity

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Excerpt from, Lent With the Saints: Daily Reflections, © Greg Friedman, OFM

Joshua 5-9a, 10-12; Psalm 34:2-3,2-5,6-7; 2; Corinthians 5:17-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

‘Saint Paul Writing His Epistles’ by Valentin de Boulogne (1618-1620) Public Domain

Old Testament readings take priority in Lent.  Most of the First Readings on weekdays are from the Hebrew Scriptures; the First Reading each Sunday is chosen to recall the story of salvation.  The writings of St. Paul, however, also appear on the Sundays of Lent.  As I was trying to find a place in this book for the Apostle to the Gentiles, a friend reminded me of how Paul bridges the Old and New Testaments.  His theology helps to shape much of our Christian identity.

Paul bookends Lent with his themes.  On Ash Wednesday, we read Paul quoting Isaiah, ‘“At an acceptable time I have listened to you, / and on a day of salvation I have helped you’” (2 Corinthians 6:2).  This passage has always heralded for me the start of the Lenten journey of penance and conversion.

As we celebrate Palm Sunday, we hear (in all three cycles) Paul’s great hymn of “emptying” from Philippians.  He reminds us: “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, / who, though he was in the form of God, / did not regard equality with God / as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, / taking the form of a slave, / being born in human likeness / (Philippians 2:6-7).

This total emptying of the Incarnation, this poverty of God, inspired so many saints, including Francis of Assisi.  It is how we are to identify with Christ, Paul tells us.  And he goes on to describe Christ’s total obedience in his death on a cross, the destination and climax of our Lenten journey, leading to resurrection and glory.

Today’s Action
Study one of Paul’s letters in its entirety as a Lenten prayer and reflection.

Prayer
Jesus may our attitude be yours.  Help us to let go of all that keeps us from life with you.  May today for us be a day of salvation.  Amen.

Fr. Greg Friedman, OFM, is a media producer and author of Advent With the Saints: Daily Reflections. He is host of American Catholic Radio, a program syndicated on Catholic radio stations nationwide. In 2009 his film Assisi Pilgrimage: Walking in faith With Francis and Clare appeared on PBS. Fr. Greg is also pastor of an inner-city parish in Cincinnati, Ohio.

 

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Moses: Knowing We Are God’s People

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Charlton Heston as Moses in ‘The Ten Commandments’

Excerpt from, Lent With the Saints: Daily Reflections, © Greg Friedman, OFM

Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15; Psalm 103: 1-2, 3-4, 6-7,8,11; 1 Corinthians 1:1-6, 10-12; Luke 13:1-9

 

The character of Moses is forever burned into the consciousness of a generation of moviegoers by Charlton Heston’s portrayal of him in The Ten Commandments.  Moses strides through the film, leading his people out of Egypt, stretching his staff over a divided Red Sea, and bringing the tablets of the Law down from his encounter with God on the mountain.

We hear about many different dimensions of Moses in Lenten readings drawn from the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy, and Moses returns the favor in a passage read on the first Sunday of Lent in the C Cycle of readings.  In describing the ritual for offering first fruits from the harvest of the Promised land, Moses says that the people must describe themselves thusly: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien” (Deuteronomy 26:5).  He goes on to retell the story of the liberation of the Hebrew people from Egypt by God’s “mighty hand and an outstretched arm” (8).  God has now settled the people in the Promised Land.  As they enjoy the blessings of God’s covenant, they make an offering to remind themselves who has given them those blessings.

Lent is when we bring people to a new identity in Christ through baptism.  Those already baptized renew that identity.  Following Moses’ example, may we use this time to recall what God has done for us in Jesus.

Today’s Action
As a Lenten activity, outline your family’s religious history and your place in it.

Prayer
God, who names us as your people, never let us forget your mighty deeds on our behalf.  Bring those seeking baptism to life in you.  For the rest of us, renew our identity in Jesus, as his body, the church, in the world.  Amen.

 

Fr. Greg Friedman, OFM, is a media producer and author of Advent With the Saints: Daily Reflections. He is host of American Catholic Radio, a program syndicated on Catholic radio stations nationwide. In 2009 his film Assisi Pilgrimage: Walking in faith With Francis and Clare appeared on PBS. Fr. Greg is also pastor of an inner-city parish in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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