Thursday, February 28, 2013

Reflection for Friday, March 1, 2013

Reflection:  Today we see numerous aspects of our sinful human nature exhibited in one short story about Joseph and his brothers.  The brothers plot to kill Joseph because of their jealousy and hatred of the father’s love for Joseph.  They are so envious of their brother that they do not even acknowledge him and greet him when he arrives in their presence.  One lone brother convinces the others not to shed blood, but out of greed, they justify selling him.  In their human weakness, they are willing to sacrifice their own family member, their flesh and blood, because of their own desires for love and for money. 

Reflection for younger saints:  Today we heard a story about a family of brothers that all wanted to be loved the most by their father.  The brothers believed Joseph was loved the most, and hated him because of this.  Because they wanted to be the favorite so much, they were willing to hurt their brother in order to get what they wanted.

Big Picture:  We are weak, and we are sinful

Discussion Starters:
     Younger saints:
  Do you every fight with your brothers or sisters because you want to be the favorite, or you want to have the most attention?  Is this a kind way to treat your brothers and sisters that you love?  How can you try to love your brothers or sisters instead of trying to get attention for yourself?
     Older saints:  Reflect on the behavior of the brothers.  We see that they are jealous, envious, exhibit hatred, contrive lies, and were greedy.  These were not very attractive characteristics in what these brothers were willing to do.  Do you exhibit any of these characteristics in your own life?  Are you ever willing to sacrifice or put down your friends or your family to get what you want?

Fun Fact:  The seven deadly sins (also known as cardinal sins or capital vices) are:  lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride.

Saint of the day: 
 Saint David of Wales
     What they are remembered for:  St. David of Wales was a British priest, founded many monasteries, and is known for his service and missionary work.  St. David of Wales and those who worked with him were known for working in silence, without the help of animals to till the soil, and living on only bread, water, and vegetables.  Many churches in South Wales are dedicated to him.
     Feast day:  March 1
     Patron Saint of:  poets, Wales
Daily Notes:

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Reflection:  Today we see a clear and sobering need for us to seek not the possessions and desires of this world, for they will fade away.  Our true and lasting joy will not come from things of this world.  True joy and hope comes from trusting in the Lord, following the Lord, and striving for heaven.  We see in the story of the rich man that when our hearts serve man and the desires of this world, we may experience earthly happiness, but we will also experience eternal torment.  Seek not fleeting happiness on earth, seek eternal happiness through hope and trust in God.

Reflection for younger saints:  Today we hear about two men who lived very different lives.  The rich man lived a life focused on himself, not on others, and he tried to gain many things in his lifetime.  Lazarus was a poor man who had nothing in his time on earth.  Each of these men died.  When this happened, the rich man was sent to hell because he did not serve God and his neighbor, while Lazarus will spend all of eternity with God in heaven.

Big Picture:  Serve God and your neighbor, not your own desires

Discussion Starters:
     Younger saints:
  What did the rich man experience after death?  What did the poor man experience after death?  If we love things, instead of God and our neighbor, what will we experience after death?  If we love God and our neighbor, what will we experience after death?
     Older saints:  Reflect on the story of the rich man and Lazarus.  What are you living your life for?  Are you seeking fleeting happiness and possessions like the rich man, or are you seeking God and eternal joy and happiness?

Fun Fact:  Faith is the belief in all the truths that God has revealed (St. Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism No. 1, 2008, p. 54).

Saint of the day: 
 Saint Oswald
     What they are remembered for:  St. Oswald was the nephew of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who played an important role in his early education.  St. Oswald became a Benedictine monk, and later was appointed as bishop of Worcester and archbishop of York.  He founded monasteries, and focused on increasing the educational standards within the abbeys he founded.  He is remembered for his service of others and his Lenten practice of washing the feet of 12 poor men every day.
     Feast day:  February 28
Daily Notes:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Reflection for Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Reflection:  Today we hear Christ sharing His fate with the disciples.  He shares the details of His impending death.  Reflect on what it must have been like to be one of those disciples.  Imagine hearing your Lord, your teacher, the man you gave up all that you had to follow, proclaim to you that He will die soon.  Imagine knowing the man who you know speaks great truths is about to be crucified.  Reflect on what it must have been like to be Christ, to know the fate that lie before you, yet your faith in the resurrection allows you to surrender yourself to the Father’s will.  Imagine the great faith and the great trust of them all. 

Reflection for younger saints:  Jesus knew He must die for our sins.  Jesus also told His disciples that He must die. 

Big Picture:  Imagine what it was like to be there…

Discussion Starters:
     Younger saints:
  Did Jesus know that He must die?  Why did Jesus die?  (Jesus died for our sins.  He died so that we can share in eternal life in heaven.)
     Older saints:  Did you take time to reflect on what it would have been like to be in the disciples place or Christ’s place?  How would you have handled those situations?  Would your faith have been strong enough to trust God?

Fun Fact:  Jesus redeemed us by His suffering and death on the cross for our sins.

Saint of the day: 
 Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows
     What they are remembered for:  St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows was born with the name Francis.  After losing his mother at a young age, he felt called to the religious life and was given the name Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows after being accepted by the Passionists.  He devoted his life to prayer, love of the poor, and being faithful to little things.  He died at the age of 24 due to tuberculosis.
     Feast day:  February 27
     Patron Saint of:  Clergy
Daily Notes:

Monday, February 25, 2013

Tuesday, February 16, 2013

Reflection:  Today we are reminded of the beauty and the cleansing power that flows from the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  We are reminded of our sinfulness and our need to “wash yourselves clean.”  Just as in our act of contrition, we are called beyond simply seeking forgives in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  We are called to a deeper holiness.  We are called to “cease doing evil; learn to do good.”  While we can try to hide our sins from the world, and even from ourselves, they are like scarlet to our Lord.  He longs to see us washed clean, to be white as snow, and to be covered in His loving grace.  Let us seek His forgiveness and strive to sin no more after we receive His saving forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. 

Reflection for younger saints:  Today’s readings remind us that we all make mistakes, and we all sin.  But, God loves us so much and wants us to always seek forgiveness in Him and to always try to do better next time.  We receive forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Big Picture:  Become white as snow

Discussion Starters:
     Younger saints:
  When we have sin in our hearts, God says those sins are scarlet, crimson red.  This means they stand out to God and He can always see our sin.  Where can we receive forgiveness for those sins?  (Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation).  What happens when we seek God through the Sacrament of Reconciliation?  (We receive God’s forgiveness for all of our sins, and we are washed clean and made as white as snow.)  How often can we receive this Sacrament?  (As often as we can.  God’s forgiveness always brings us closer to Him and helps us to grow in holiness.)
     Older saints:  Reflect on the visual our Lord gives us of our sinfulness being scarlet, crimson red; while His forgiveness helps us to be washed clean and to be as white as snow.  What does God see when He looks in your heart today?  Do you need to be washed clean?  When was the last time you sought forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation?  Take time today to examine your conscience and to schedule confession into your life, be it weekly or monthly. 

Fun Fact:  Confession is the act of telling our sins to a priest to obtain forgiveness.  We go to the priest, who takes Christ’s place, and Christ, through the priest, forgives our sins (St. Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism No. 1, 2008, p. 151).

Saint of the day: 
 Saint Porphyry of Gaza
     What they are remembered for:  St. Porphyry of Gaza is well-known for his generosity to the poor.  He made the deserts and caves his home for some time before he was ordained as a priest.  The accounts of his life as a priest and later as a Bishop, are not entirely known.  He is known to have worked tirelessly for the faith, and converted many souls.
     Feast day:  February 26
Daily Notes:

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Our souls are starving

In the past four years I have been blessed with the opportunity to attend a number of speakers, bible studies, information sessions, holy hours, and retreats put on by local Catholic parishes and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.  What do you think is the one common theme that runs through all these opportunities to learn about and grow in the faith?  About 90% of those in attendance are over the age of 50.  Are those individuals over 50 the only ones who need to grow in their faith?  The likely answer is no, in that I would venture to guess most of these adults know more about the teachings of the Catholic Church than many of their younger counterparts combined.  Were all of these opportunities to grow in my faith only offered during working hours so those who are retired were the only ones who were able to attend?  No, most educational opportunities are offered during the evening hours or on Saturday mornings specifically so that those who have a career can still attend. 

As a society we have come to see these as “optional” learning opportunities for those who have nothing better to do with their time.  We easily decide we are too busy to attend or we are not required to attend, so it must not be valuable.  We have come to see Sunday Mass as our one and only time each week to learn about the faith.  How much do we really take from that Sunday Mass?  Are we really fully engaged, or are we easily distracted by all those gathered around us.  We have decided that once we complete our faith formation courses and receive the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Catholic Church, we have learned all that there is to learn about the Catholic Church.  Would this be something we would effectively apply to other areas of our life?  Once we graduate from College do we say that we have learned it all?  No, we continue learning. 

Our souls are starving to learn more about the Catholic faith.  Imagine how you would feel if you hadn’t eaten or drank anything since you were Confirmed.  You would be weak, malnourished, and would be quick to fall into temptation.  Knowledge of and growth in the faith is our spiritual food and drink.  Without continued nourishment we will become weak, malnourished, and quick to fall into sin and temptation. 

I will close with this thought for those who would argue that they are too busy to attend said bible studies, retreats, speakers, and holy hours offered in their local Catholic parish.  If a friend called you up and asked you out to a movie or to dinner, and you really wanted to go, would you re-arrange your schedule to make it happen?  Are you making time to read the latest book series that came out?  Do you make time to watch that TV show you just can’t miss every week?  We chose to make time for the things that we see as priorities no matter how busy our life is.  We can’t stay in the same place in our relationship with God, so the activities we chose to participate in are either pulling us closer to God or pushing us away from God.  Are you choosing to make time for God?  He is calling you, He is begging you, and He longs for you to know Him more fully.  He longs for us to race to the book store to get the latest book about the teachings of the Catholic Church, or to attend the latest bible study that will deepen our faith, or to watch TV shows that deepen our faith instead of filling our life with sludge.  Our souls are starving for a deeper knowledge of the faith, how will you nourish your soul?

Reflection for Monday, February 25, 2013

Reflection:  Mercy is a common theme in today’s Christian life.  God is merciful – we have been taught this from our youth.  God, in His great mercy, sent His Son to die for our sins so that we might have eternal life.  God, in His great mercy, continues to forgive us when we lead lives unworthy of His forgiveness.  God is so merciful, and we have come to take that mercy for granted.

But today, the lesson of the Gospel is not about God’s mercy, but about the fact that we are to be merciful.  Jesus tells us to be merciful just as your Father is merciful.  Now those earlier words regarding God’s mercy are a bit less relieving, and a lot more challenging.  Jesus expects us to be merciful unto others just like God is to us.  This means we have to die to ourselves and live outside of what is easy.  Mercy means we have to be patient with others when they are frustrating us.  Mercy means we have to serve our family when we would rather be concerned about what we would like to be doing.  Mercy means we have to forgive others who wrong us.  And mercy even means we have to forgive them again (and again) when they do the exact same thing to us again (and again).  That is being merciful, and that is what Jesus calls us to, and expects from us.

Reflection for younger saints:  God loves us and forgives us every time we sin and break His commandments.  Today God tells us that we are to do the same for our family, friends, and neighbors.  We are to love and forgive others just as God loves and forgives us.  This is not always easy, but helps us to be more like Jesus in our lives.

Big Picture:  Be merciful as your Father is merciful

Discussion Starters:
     Younger saints:
  What does it mean to be merciful?  (To be kind to someone else and to forgive someone else, especially when they are not being nice to you.)  Are your parents merciful to you?  Do you think you should be merciful to others?
     Older saints:  Do you have someone in your life that you have failed to forgive.  Step outside yourself today and offer them your love and your forgiveness.  If you have younger siblings, how can you be merciful to them?  How can you be merciful to people who you don’t get along with?  How can you be merciful to your parents?

Fun Fact:  We obtain grace through prayer and the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist (St. Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism No. 1, 2008, p. 50).

Saint of the day: 
 Saint Tarasius
     What they are remembered for:  St. Tarasius was elected to a high office in service of the emperor, but as a result of his turning away from idolatry and his refusal to grant a divorce to the emperor, his relationship was tarnished.  St. Tarasius worked tirelessly for the poor and devoted his life to prayer, service to others, and reforming the Church toward greater holiness.
     Feast day:  February 25
Daily Notes:

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Reflection for Sunday, February 24, 2013


Reflection:  In the Gospel, we hear God speaking directly.  He tells us, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”  That’s a pretty simple message.  And frankly, life is that simple.  All we have to do is be willing to listen to Jesus, and of course, to respond to Him and follow His will for our lives.  Now this is no easy task at times, but thanks be to God, He gave us the Holy Catholic Church to teach us, provide the authoritative teachings of Christ, and to give us priests to guide us.  So God’s call for us is simple – listen to Him.  The way we are able to do it is also simple – follow what the Church instructs us to do.  All that’s left is our response – make it a simple “yes!”

Big Picture:  All we need in life is to follow Jesus

Discussion Starters:

Younger saints:  Do you know what the purpose of your life is?  (To know, love, and serve God in this world so that we can be with Him forever in heaven.)  How do we know how to serve God?  (By listening to our parents and our priests, who teach us how.)

Older saints:  Our society tells us that we need many things.  Reflect on what you really need in your life.  Do you really need all that society tells you, or are those things just nice to have?  What do you think about the statement that all we need in life is to follow Jesus?  How do you think your life would go if you followed this statement in everything you did?

Scripture Verse for the Week:  The Lord is my lights and my salvation; whom should I fear?  The Lord is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?  Psalm 27:1 

You are now entering the mission field:  Teach others (younger siblings, friends, neighbors) about Jesus and the Catholic Church.  (Spiritual words of mercy – to instruct the ignorant)


Friday, February 22, 2013

Reflection for Saturday, February 23, 2013

Reflection:  We hear our Father speaking stern and loving words to us today in both of the readings.  The Gospel reading closes with:  “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  He doesn’t ask us try, to think about, to consider it, He asks us to “be perfect.”  While our sin and human weakness keep us from true perfection, they should not keep us from striving for perfection in our obedience and observance of God’s commands “with all of our heart and with all of our soul.”  In athletics and in the arts we see this striving for perfection.  While very few children or adults will every truly achieve perfection in whatever talent they pursue, they commit themselves whole-heartedly to that task.  How do they strive for perfection?  They practice, practice, practice.  The same applies to our goal of spiritual perfection.  We can only hope to achieve perfection if we devote ourselves to continually practicing perfection.  When we make an error, we pick ourselves up, we go to confession, and we try harder next time.  Just as we will not achieve perfection in the arts or in athletics unless we devote ourselves to achieving it, we will not achieve perfection, and therefore holiness, unless we completely devote our lives to striving to attain it!

Reflection for younger saints:  Today we read about God calling us to be perfect.  Another word for being perfect in our faith and love of God is holiness.  God is asking us all to follow His commandments and to try to live like Jesus lived so that we can be perfect and holy.

Big Picture:  Strive for perfection

Discussion Starters:
     Younger saints:
  What is God asking us to be in the Gospel reading today?  (Perfect.)  What other word do we use for spiritual perfection?  (Holiness.)  Whose example do we follow to know how to be perfect and holy?  (Jesus and the Saints.  They lived holy lives devoted to God and to following God’s commandments.  If we live like they did, we can be holy too.)
     Older saints:  Take a moment to reflect on a talent in your life that you have devoted great attention to in an attempt to be perfect, or to be close to perfect.  Is it a sport, a musical instrument, choir, or scholastics?  How much time and energy do you devote to trying to improve in this particular activity?  Now, consider how much time you spend in prayer, reading scripture, time in adoration, attending Mass, and learning more about the teachings of the Catholic Church.  Are you striving for perfection and devoting the same amount of time to your goal of holiness as you are to your other goals and desires?  What is the end result if you achieve perfection in your extra-curricular activity?  What is the end result if you achieve perfection in holiness?  (heaven).  Consider where your time may be best spent?

Fun Fact:  Sanctifying grace makes us holy and pleasing to God, makes us children of God, makes us temples of the Holy Spirit, and gives us the right to heaven (St. Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism No. 1, 2008, p. 50).

Saint of the day: 
 Saint Polycarp
     What they are remembered for:  St. Polycarp was a friend of St. Ignatius and was a well-known and honored christian leader of the second century.  St. Polycarp was ordered to be burned alive, but after the flames did not harm him, he was finally killed by a dagger.  His martyrdom was one of the first recorded, reliable accounts of christian martyrdom.  “Stand fast, therefore, in this conduct and follow the example of the Lord, ‘firm and unchangeable in faith, lovers of the brotherhood, loving each other, united in truth,’ helping each other with the mildness of the Lord, despising no man” (Polycarp, Letter to the Philippians).

     Feast day:  February 23
Daily Notes:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Reflection for Friday, February 22, 2013

Reflection:  As we celebrate the feast of the Chair of Saint Peter today, our readings provide us with justification for the pope within scripture.  It is common for those outside of the Catholic faith to be confused about the role of the pope or why he is present within the Catholic Church.  We see within our Gospel reading today our first pope, Saint Peter.  We hear Jesus give Saint Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and we hear Christ call Saint Peter the rock upon which He will build His church.  As stated by Pope Benedict XVI, “The Chair represents (the pope’s) mission as guide of the entire People of God.  Celebrating the ‘Chair’ of Peter means attributing a strong spiritual significance to it and recognizing it as a privileged sign of the love of God.”  We all need a guide in our faith.  We see this need very present in our society today as individuals choose to interpret scripture and apply it to their life on their own terms.  Without our shepherd we are nothing more than lost and wandering sheep.  The pope is our shepherd and he has been giving to us by Christ to guide us home.

Reflection for younger saints:  Today we celebrate the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter.  This is a special day that we celebrate the role of the Pope as the leader of our Catholic Church.  The pope has a very special and very important job to lead all those who believe in God and want to be with Him in heaven one day.

Big Picture:  While this is not a typical “big picture” take away, I found it to be a striking and humbling quote to summarize the experience of a pope:  “Perhaps it would be a good thing if every Christian, certainly if every priest, could dream once in his life that he were pope, and wake from that nightmare in a sweat of agony.”  Ronald Knox

Discussion Starters:
     Younger saints:
  What is the job of the pope?  (The pope is the spiritual lead and the head of the Catholic Church).  Who was the first pope?  (Saint Peter).  Who is our current pope?  (Pope Benedict XVI).
     Older saints:  What is the job of the pope?  (The pope is the spiritual lead and the head of the Catholic Church).  Who was the first pope?  (Saint Peter).  Who is our current pope?  (Pope Benedict XVI).  Reflect on what you imagine it would be like to be the pope. 

Fun Fact:  The one true Church established by Jesus is the Catholic Church.  We know this because Jesus chose the 12 apostles to teach, sanctify, and rule His Church and the Bishops of the Catholic Church are the successors to the apostles.  Jesus also chose Peter as the head of His Church, and the Popes are the successors to Peter.

Daily Notes: 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Are you prepared to answer the question: Why don't you eat meat on Fridays?

As we will soon be reminded during Holy Week, Christ died on the cross for our sins on Friday.  Out of honor and respect for His death and suffering for our sins, the Church has set aside Fridays as a special day to honor and remember Christ’s suffering.  “Christian peoples, members of a Church that is at once holy, penitent, and always in process of renewal, have from the beginning observed seasons and days of penance. They have done so by community penitential observances as well as by personal acts of self-denial; they have imitated the example of the spotless Son of God Himself, concerning Whom the Sacred Scriptures tell us that He went into the desert to fast and to pray for forty days (Mk 1:13). Thus Christ gave the example to which Paul appealed in teaching us how we, too, must come to the mature measures of the fullness of Christ (Eph 4:13)”  ( While we seem to focus more fully on this sacrifice during the season of Lent, we are called to make sacrifices along with Christ every Friday as we remember His sacrifice.  Our suffering and sacrifice has traditionally been in the form of abstaining from meat on all Fridays.  Yes, you heard me correctly there, all Fridays, not just Fridays during Lent. 
As Canon Law tells us, “The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent (Can. 1250), and abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determines by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays (Can. 1251)”.  Canon Law goes on to say that “the conference of bishops can determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence as well as substitute other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety, in whole or in part, for abstinence and fast” (Can. 1253).   

In 1966 the US Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement that did just that.  Citing changes in economic, dietary, and social circumstances, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops felt that abstaining from meat on Fridays “may no longer be the most effective form of penance”.  They did not, however, state that we are no longer to do penance on Fridays throughout the year.  The bishops recognized that meat is no longer a luxury, and concluded that abstaining from “things we enjoy most” on Fridays, as another form of abstinence, may be more penitential.  In other words, the US Bishops recognized that abstaining from meat may not be a hard enough penance for Americans and they wanted to push us to dig deeper in our observance of penance on Fridays during the year. 

The Conference of Catholic Bishops went on to provide us with the following guidance in prayerfully discerning a proper “voluntary self-denial and personal penance” on Fridays throughout the year.  Friday itself remains a special day of penitential observance throughout the year…For this reason we urge all to prepare for that weekly Easter that comes with each Sunday by freely making of every Friday a day of self-denial and mortification in prayerful remembrance of the passion of Jesus Christ.  Among the works of voluntary self-denial and personal penance which we especially commend to our people for the future observance of Friday, even though we hereby terminate the traditional law of abstinence binding under pain of sin, as the sole prescribed means of observing Friday, we give first place to abstinence from flesh meat. We do so in the hope that the Catholic community will ordinarily continue to abstain from meat by free choice as formerly we did in obedience to Church law.”

In closing, I will default to Pope Benedict XVI to describe to us the true desire we are seeking in abstaining and offering penance on Fridays throughout the year.  "Denying material food, which nourishes our body, nurtures an interior disposition to listen to Christ and be fed by His saving word. Through fasting and praying, we allow Him to come and satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the depths of our being: the hunger and thirst for God."---Pope Benedict XVI

How if your Lenten sacrifice going?

My family and I were thrust into Lent this year as our home was ravaged by a relentless stomach bug on Ash Wednesday.  There was certainly plenty opportunity for offering up our suffering!  Now, as we have emerged from our illness, I am humbled by my struggles with my own Lenten sacrifice.  I am realizing what a grip my vices have on me, and how much I need our Lord to give me strength to overcome them.  Much as we see in our reading from the book of Esther, it is only in throwing ourselves down before our Lord, recognizing our weakness and inability to do this on our own, that we can overcome that sin that has so tightly gripped our lives. 

I urge you to press on, for this Lent God has great things planned for us.  Our country needs us to rise up, to offer up our sacrifices, and to turn our lives more fully toward God.  Can you feel Him pulling you closer yet?  Can you feel Him entering more fully into every area of your life yet?  Are you still keeping certain doors closed to our Lord?  Why?  What are you affraid of?

This Lent, let us open wide the doors of our heart and welcome our Lord in.  May our hearts be overflowing with His light and His joy on Easter morning!

Reflection for Thursday, February 21, 2013

Reflection:  Today we see Queen Esther throw herself down before the Lord in prayer, pleading for the desires of her heart.  She, a woman of great power, humbled herself and laid her life before God.  She prayed to Him day and night.  She recognized her human weakness, that she could not conquer the things of her life without God.  She shows us that she knew of God’s power through a knowledge and understanding of His sacred scripture.  She pleaded with God for His help and His guidance.  We too must lay our life before God, recognizing that we can do nothing without Him, that we are His child, and that He will care for us.  We come to God with a knowledge of His sacred scripture, we come to Him with a relationship that we have built, and we come to Him with an understanding that only He can provide us with all that we need.  “If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.”

Reflection for younger saints:  Today we read about Esther, who is a great and powerful queen, coming to God in prayer.  She recognizes that she cannot live her life on her own, and she needs God’s help.  God assures us that He will provide us with all that we need, all we must do is ask.

Big Picture:  Lay your needs at your Father’s feet

Discussion Starters:
     Younger saints:
  What does it mean to be a queen and to be powerful?  Do people who have earthly power need God’s help in their lives?  (Yes, we all need God’s help and guidance in our life.)  How do we ask God for help?  (We talk to God in prayer, we spend time with Him in Mass and in adoration, we share our needs with God.)  Will God always provide us with what we need?  (God tells us that He will always give us all that we need.  This is different, though, from giving us everything that we want.)
     Older saints:  Slowly read through the reading from the book of Esther.  Try to picture a stately queen, dressed in royal garments, lying prostrate on the floor with her handmaids, pleading to our Lord for help.  It is a humbling picture to envision.  Have you ever come to our Lord in such a humble and pleading fashion?  Do you tend to come to God and tell Him your wants and ask why He isn’t giving them to you?  Reflect on the fact that God will provide for us all that we need….but wants are different than needs…what is it that you truly need in your life, and what are really just wants?

Fun Fact:  The good angels are in heaven to love and adore God, to pray for us, and to serve as guardian angels (St. Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism No. 1, 2008, p. 24).

Saint of the day: 
 Saint Peter Damian
     What they are remembered for:  St. Peter Damian held a special place for the poor in his heart.  He devoted his life to prayer and service of the poor.  He was a monk, became an abbot that founded 5 hermitages, and was later named a Cardinal-Bishop.  He was called upon by the Pope at multiple points in his life to settle disputes and to guide his fellow priests.
     Feast day:  February 21
Daily Notes:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Reflection for Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Reflection:  The first reading describes a remarkable response to Jonah’s preaching - the king of Nineveh proclaims a fast where men and animals are not to drink or eat anything.  But that’s not the truly striking part.  The truly striking part is the last bit of the fast that the king proclaims, which was that every man shall turn from his evil way and from the violence he has in hand.  This is the part that gets God’s attention.  This is how God saw that they turned from their evil way and turned back toward Him, and then He did not destroy the city as had been foretold by Jonah.

The other striking part of the fast is that it was done without even knowing that God would change His mind.  The king says, “Who knows, God may relent and forgive.”  What a stark contrast to us today – we know God will repent and forgive us, yet sometimes we are still not willing to turn from our evil ways.  We tend to error on the side of “Who knows, maybe we can do it on our own.” 

Reflection for younger saints:  Today we see a great example of the followers of God who saw that they were living a life filled with sin.  They knew they needed to change the way that they were living their life, so they turned their lives back toward God and followed Him rather than doing what they wanted to do.  God asks us to do the same thing with our life.

Big Picture:  God will forgive-will you repent?

Discussion Starters:
     Younger saints:
  Who came to visit the Ninevites in today’s first reading?  (Jonah).  What did Jonah come to tell them?  (That in forty days Nineveh would be destroyed.)  What did the people of Nineveh do after Jonah told them this?  (They proclaimed a fast, turned from their evil ways, and turned back to God.) 
     Older saints:  In a sense, we can see that proclaiming a fast is the easy part.  The truly hard part for the people of Nineveh, and for ourselves, is to turn from our evil ways and to turn back toward God.  We all have evil in our lives, no matter how perfect we might strive to be.  We are all human and are therefore weak and sinful.  But, this does not mean we cannot strive for perfection.  What evil is in your life that you need to turn away from so that you can turn more fully to God?  What temptations draw you toward evil that you need to remove from your life?

Fun Fact:  The angels who were unfaithful to God are called the bad angels.  God sent them to hell and they try to tempt us to sin (St. Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism No. 1, 2008, p. 24).

Saint of the day: 
 Blessed Jacinta and Francisco Marto
     What they are remembered for:  Jacinta, Francisco, and their cousin Lucia dos Santos were visited by Our Lady in apparitions near Fatima in Portugal.  Our Lady asked them to visit her on the same day every month over a six month period, and to learn to read, write, and pray the Rosary.  They were called to pray for peace and an end to war in their country.  Jacinta and Francisco were beatified in 2000 by Pope John Paul II.
     Feast day:  February 20
Daily Notes:

Monday, February 18, 2013

Reflection for Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Reflection:  Today we receive a refreshing reminder as to how we are to pray.  I always enjoy these gentle reminders, as they always teach us something and remind us to dig a little deeper in our prayer life.  We are reminded not to babble when we pray, not to simply sit and listen to our own voice being herd.  We are reminded that we are speaking to our Father in prayer.  Prayer is a time to speak to our loving Father who loves us dearly, and longs to have a relationship with us.  This is what prayer is afterall, a time to speak and to listen to our Father who loves us.

Big Picture:  Take time to speak and to listen to your Father

Discussion Starters:
     Younger saints:
  Who are we speaking to when we pray?  When we pray, we are often speaking to God, but what else must we do when we pray?  (Take time to be quiet and listen to what God has to say to us.) 
     Older saints:  Take some time to reflect on your own prayer life.  How have you grown in the past few months?  Are you taking time to pray every day?  Are you taking time to quiet your heart and listen to God during your prayer time?  Do you take time to thank God for all your blessings, or are you too busy asking Him for things?  Consider starting a prayer journal to reflect on your prayer time and to keep a record of your conversations with God.  It might be interesting to look back on months from now and see how you relationship has changed.

Fun Fact:  The Mass is an example of how we are called to pray horizontally, which means praying in community with God.

Saint of the day: 
 Saint Conrad of Piacenza
     What they are remembered for:  St. Conrad of Piacenza became well known after he asked his servants to set fire to some brush during a hunting trip, in an attempt to flush out the animals.  The surrounding forest and fields set on fire and St. Conrad fled.  An innocent peasant was later convicted for the fire and sentenced to death, but St. Conrad confessed of his own guilt and paid for the repairs to be made to the damaged land.  He later devoted his life to prayer.
     Feast day:  February 19
Daily Notes: