Here are the things that have consumed my heart and mind in the last week: shop; finish talk outlines; do last minute prep for our Life Teen Winter Retreat with 30 teens and 10 leaders; organize our Life Teen Pancake Dinner that feeds about 50-60 families on Mardi Gras; plan and finish details for the FOCUS Mission Trip I am directing to Colombia that starts two days after Mardi Gras!
St. John Chrysostom in the 4th century preached, “Whenever…you see a poor believer, imagine that you behold an altar. Whenever you meet a beggar, don’t insult him, but reverence him.” Spiritually speaking, the poor person becomes a living altar on which we can offer our charitable sacrifices to God.
When I was maybe eight or nine, I gave up TV for Lent. At the time, it seemed nearly impossible, and I was proud of challenging myself.
As we approach the season of Lent, it is easy to put all of our attention into what we are giving up, whether that is sweets or smoking, or something completely different, and forget about what we are gaining. We do not fast just to build discipline, attain healthier lifestyles, and break bad habits. While all of these things are good reasons for fasting, they are not the main reason. Fasting is first and foremost about detaching from unimportant things and attaching oneself to important things.
During this Lenten season, let’s focus on attaching ourselves to important things. Let’s view our detachment from unimportant things as the way by which we attach ourselves to what is good.
Seminarian, Diocese of Bridgeport
Growing up in a Catholic family, Lent was not particularly my favorite time of year. The idea of giving up something that I like was rather harsh in my eyes. But as I’ve grown up, the true meaning of Lent has started to become more apparent to me. Jesus sacrificed his entire life for the sins of every person, for you and for me, yet I can’t go 40 days without giving up ONE thing?
As I continue to grow in my faith and as I prepare for the season of Lent, I will take more time to think of the significance of sacrifice. Most people, including me, ask the question, “What should I give up during Lent?” The thing is, we don’t have to give something up for Lent if we don’t want to, though there is a lot of merit in that. There are so many other things that we can do during Lent, like saying an extra prayer every day, praying for a specific issue every day, or even starting a new, good habit. For example, this Lent, I’ll be saying an extra prayer for a deeper respect for the value of human life.
So if you are not keen on the idea of giving something up for Lent, there are many other ways to sacrifice during Lent, the season of sacrifice when we begin to unite ourselves more concretely to Christ on the Cross.
By: Daniel Gardella
February 5th was the BIG Day. It was SUPER BOWL Sunday. It was the opportune moment for family gatherings and fun times even if the favorite team did not reach our expectations.
So, let’s try some Monday morning quarter backing in a rather different sphere. February, with its 28 days, invites us to get up to the line and tackle those waning cold days and snowstorms that still persist. It directs us to step up to the line of scrimmage to see the new vistas that await us as we go forward on our daily journey with the Lord as our guide.
Think about it! We have just left behind some joyous memories from Christmas and yet, very soon we are to delve into the Lenten season and the challenges it presents through prayer, fasting, and service.
Once again, the playing field is long and wide with Jesus as our companion. After all, 40 days is long yardage to cover. We require all the graces the Lord will disperse to us if only we listen attentively to his voice as he directs the play we are to follow. Are you ready?
By: Sr. Helen Kieran, OP
As was Jewish Law, 40 days after the birth of a male child, the mother was to present the child in the Temple along with a lamb for a burnt offering to God and a turtle dove or pigeon for a purification offering. At the time, the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem was the sole site where all sacrifice took place for the entirety of Judaism. Both at the beginning of Christ’s earthly life and at the end of it, He entered Jerusalem for the very purpose of sacrifice: as an infant, it was to offer sacrifice per Mosaic Law, but as a 33-year-old Jewish man, it was to offer Himself as sacrifice for the sins of the world…the very sacrifice in which we participate when we go to Mass. Venerable Fulton Sheen once wrote that, “You and I came into the world to live; He (Christ) came into the world to offer His life for us.” From the very moment that Mary presented Jesus in the Temple to the moment when Christ rose from the dead, conquering sin and death, it was, is, and will always be by His sacrifice that we “may have life, and have it abundantly.”
By: Fr. Eric Silva
I’m often asked how I keep my faith life alive and well in college. The answer is quite simple…I try.
I don’t particularly know if there is an answer, a secret to keeping faith alive in college. However, I do know that I just try to keep it alive and well while I’m away. I try to find a few moments to pray everyday; I try to make it to Sunday mass every week; and I try to spend time with other sisters and brothers in the faith.
So again, when asked how I keep my faith alive and well while being away, the simple answer is I try. And I believe it’s the same for many others in our Diocese as well. College folk, we’re not perfect; we enjoy our sleep and our “fine” dining hall food perhaps more than we should, but we try to take what this dynamic Diocese has taught us and apply it to our lives at school, which is always to do our best. And our best in keeping our faith lives active and well, is by trying, by making the effort for Jesus.
By: Mike Falbo
Another year has concluded and most of us barely crawled across the finish line. Reflecting on 2016, it was a wild ride full of ups and downs. But we would not have been able to make it through if it was not for the grace of God! Every New Years Eve, we hold onto the hope that the next year will be better, that we will be better. The truth is that there will never be a year without failure or disaster. But what God has in store for us is greater than any hurdle that might get in our way. As we think of the resolutions we made for 2017, we cannot forget about the spiritual resolutions that God is calling us to make every day. No matter where we are in our faith, our hearts will always be ready to convert back to Jesus. As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “if anyone is in Christ he is a new creature; the old things have passed away, behold new things have come!” Before we put on our brave faces and prepare to take on the unexpected, remember that our source of strength comes from our God and he can make anything new.
By Abby Wolpiuk
With the Baptism of the Lord, we arrive at the end of the Christmas Season, a time marked by the tender love and humility of God who became man in the poverty of a stable in Bethlehem to be with us always and save us. These characteristics are present throughout the life of Jesus and shine with particular beauty in today’s feast.
The baptism of John was a baptism of repentance and conversion, so there was no need for Christ, the perfect and sinless man, to participate in it. Still, in humble obedience, Jesus chose to be baptized by a man. Out of love, He carried upon Himself the burden of our sins and, lowering Himself in the waters of the Jordan, He united himself with us in a special way. He said yes to His mission to give up His life to reconcile us, which will be fully accomplished with His death and resurrection, and God the Father proclaimed Him as His beloved Son.
As we meditate upon the Baptism of the Lord, let us give thanks to God for the gift our own baptism, because through it we too become the beloved children of God and are given all the grace that we need to be holy. This is the greatest gift God gives us, but it can only bear fruits in our lives if we accept it, if we say yes to God in the daily circumstances of our lives.
Director, High School Apostles
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage. (Matthew 2:1-2)
Epiphany is the feast where the birth of the Savior in Bethlehem becomes a world-wide reality, not only a local story. Visitors from the East (that is, the far reaches of the known world at the time) come not out of curiosity but with the intention of giving honor to the baby who will redeem the world, not Israel only. Faith in Jesus Christ is not solely a personal experience but a community experience as well. Our journey to and from Mass each week brings Christ from heart and home to parish family so that inspired by the Word and fed at the table of the Eucharist we can do our part to make Christ known to the larger world (of neighborhood, workplace, and all the other “worlds” we navigate daily).
As the Christmas season draws to a close, we might ask the question the magi from the east asked: “Where is the newborn king of the Jews?” I propose that a satisfying answer will come if we keep a little bit of Christmas in our hearts throughout the entire year. The joy, wonder, and star-lit mystery of the Christmas season lifts our spirits; so why not keep some of that joy, wonder and mystery alive as the decorations come down and winter unfolds?
Find your own star to guide you by identifying the grace you have received at Christmas or any other time. Travel by the “light of that same star” by thinking of the people in your life who are light and love and who inspire you to feel hopeful. Keep one small Christmas decoration displayed to remind you that God loved the world so much that He sent his only Son as one like us in all things but sin. Hum a Christmas carol in February when it truly is the bleak midwinter. Most of all, bring Christ to the world by being a loving presence to one another and to those in need. None of us will have to journey as far as the magi did to encounter the living Christ, but nonetheless, travel safely and soundly and know that Christ travels with you!
Fr. Robert Kinnally
Chancellor, Diocese of Bridgeport