Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wednesday of the First Week
The readings today are reminiscent of an old Anglican hymn that reappeared when John-Michael Tebelak included the lyrics in his master's thesis—better known as the wonderful musical, Godspell:

Turn back, O man, forswear thy foolish ways.
Old now is earth, and none may count her days,
Yet thou, her child, whose head is crowned with flame,
Still wilt not hear thine inner God proclaim:
“Turn back, O man, forswear thy foolish ways.”

This admonition threads through today’s excerpts from Jonah, Psalm 51, and Luke’s Gospel.  They speak to our need to admit our imperfection and wrongdoings and to seek the responsiveness of divine mercy.  We read some parallels in the work of Jonah and Jesus.  As God in His compassion saved the foul city of Nineveh when its residents awoke to the sign of Jonah, Jesus urged those near Him to acknowledge His sign and to change their ways and to follow Him to their salvation. The higher order of Jesus is well articulated when Luke, referring to the Savior tells us, “there is something greater than Solomon here…there is something greater than Jonah here.”  Perhaps we should hope to be as obedient to God’s Word as the reluctant Jonah and as wise as King Solomon and wake up to what is expected of us as followers of Christ. 
We pray today for wisdom to discern the signs that point to what is expected of us as we strive to overcome our reluctance to follow them.  Amen.

Churchill Hindes, ‘69, Member of the Worshipping Community

First Reading: Jonah 3:1-10
Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19
Gospel: Luke 11:29-32

Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday of the First Week
Words are powerful. When we speak, our words can make a difference in the lives of others, and in our own lives as well. Isaiah 55 proposes that, as rain and snow fall from the sky, allowing the earth to foster plants that grow that then provide "seed to the sower and bread to the eater," so too can the words we speak go forth and "accomplish that which I purpose and prosper in the thing for which I sent it." So we need to remember how powerful our words can be; when we put hope, healing and redemption in our words, we can help foster those same qualities in the world around us.

But, we are also challenged to remember not to make a show of our words and our intentions, no matter how noble we might believe them to be. The verses in Matthew 6:5-7 have often been favorites of mine, pointing out the hypocrisy in those who make a huge show of their words and reminding us instead to focus our intentions quietly toward the Divine. "God knows what we need before we ask," Jesus reminds us here, so we should keep our prayers simple: to do God's will on earth as it is in heaven, and to be forgiven as we forgive others. And Psalm 34 reminds us to ask for help when we need it: "I sought the Lord, and the Lord answered me, and delivered me from all my fears."

It is difficult to be mindful of something as simple as the words we speak to others, to ourselves and in our conversations with God. These verses invite us to remember to sow goodness with our words, to keep them honest and focused on our truest intentions, and that when we need help, we need to remember to ask not only our friends and our family, but also the loving Spirit who is within us, beside us and before us, and who always knows what we need.
Loving God, please help us to remember that with every word we speak, or write, or think, we have the power to connect with the best of others, and with You. May You help us see more clearly what You want us to accomplish, and may the words we speak bring us closer to those around us, those in need, those we may serve better, and You.

Caroline Crawford, Public Relations and Marketing

First Reading: Isaiah 55:10-11
Psalm 34:4-7, 16-19
Gospel: Matthew 6:7-15

Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday of the First Week
God is the model Father: He invites His children to be holy but doesn’t leave it at that; He describes the course of action that allows us to be holy people, sharing with us what behaviors to refrain from and asking us to emulate His holiness. During this Lenten season, we can ask ourselves how well we have followed God’s commandments. We may spend time becoming acutely aware of our actions or inactions, realizing our sinfulness. While it may seem a rigorous course to follow, God’s law, we are told in the responsorial psalm, is “perfect,” “clear”, “true,” and “enlightening.” The path to holiness is clearly laid out.  As Christians, we are called to follow this path.

It’s easy to skim through today’s Gospel reading since it’s a passage we may have heard many times, but Christ’s words to His disciples in this Scripture serve as a reminder of our call to serve others. Lent, as a time of sacrifice, causes us to think about how we give of ourselves. With Christ as our example of ultimate self-sacrifice, we can use this season to reflect on the ways in which we have ministered to those around us, thereby pleasing the Lord. In this passage, we also become aware of Christ’s presence within all people and come to know that, in loving others, we show our love for the Lord. I find this an especially pertinent reminder to always represent our faith well, to actively work toward constantly embodying God’s love for humanity in the name of Jesus Christ.
Lord, as we begin the season of Lent, let us reflect on Your commandments, striving always to live our lives according to Your law. Help us to seek out opportunities to serve others before ourselves, extending our love, compassion, and gifts with those we meet. Remind us, Lord, that Christ is present within all of Your people, and give us the graces we need to serve You by serving our world.

Ellen Desmond, ‘12

First Reading: Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18
Psalm 19:8-10, 15
Gospel: Matthew 25:31-46

Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website

Sunday, February 26, 2012

First Sunday of Lent

“Life's most persistent and urgent question is,
'What are you doing for others?'”  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The story of Noah’s ark reminds us that we are all called to “do” something for others, to be in relationship with one another and in relationship with Christ. In today’s readings, Noah is made aware of the covenant that he has entered into with God. Noah is reassured that both he and his descendants will no longer have to worry about the possibility of another life-threatening flood. Of course, we know that natural disasters occur all of the time in today’s world, sometimes even in our own communities. While I am not suggesting that God was wrong to imply that humankind would never again be faced with natural disaster, I am suggesting that we strive to recognize those who accept their call to be a person for others by caring for friends, family members, and even strangers in times of need, much like Noah did. When we overcome the obstacles that life throws at us and greet each and every living thing with respect and kindness, we often feel nourished. In a similar way, we can become spiritually nourished by opening up our hearts to Christ’s love and recognizing His presence in our lives. I find that when we strive to see the Noahs of the world and to be a Noah ourselves, we get closer to the ideal example that Christ has set for us and in “doing” so, we get closer to who He intended us to be.  And what a beautiful portrait of hope this is!
Dear Lord, we ask that You make us a channel of Your peace, that You help us to be the best version of ourselves each day. Help us to recognize Your presence in our everyday lives and to accept the call to be in relationship with You. Help us to recognize those in need and to be a beacon of hope to the hopeless. In Your name we pray, AMEN!

Courtney Smith, ‘12

First Reading: Genesis 9:8-15
Psalm 25:4-9
Second Reading: 1 Peter 3:18-22
Gospel: Mark 1:12-15

Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Today’s readings represent several core messages for Christians and all those who try to understand the way of God. The first reading is a series of beautiful “if…then” promises. The Lord promises “If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusations…malicious speech…If you bestow your bread on the hungry…” then your rewards shall be great. We will have light in the darkness, bounty on parched land, a magnificent garden and many other gifts so treasured by the ancient Hebrews.

The Gospel reading for today, at first glance, seems to be about a very different subject — how Jesus ate and drank with “tax collectors and sinners” — the former occupation being profoundly reviled in the Bible. Seeing Jesus stooping to such a “low level” and eating among people who were not regarded as worthy of His teachings, the Pharisees and their scribes complained bitterly.  Jesus’ answer was simple: “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”

After some thought, I realized that these seemingly disparate readings remind us of the same central message of Christ’s teachings—that all men and women are equal in the eyes of God and we have an obligation to love everyone. If we are true Christians, then we should not tolerate oppression, lies, or malicious speech. We should feed the hungry, and we should care for the sick and sinners alike, because they need “healing” at least as much as “the righteous.”
God, help me to avoid maliciousness in all words and deeds. Help me to remember to care for the oppressed. Help me never to forget that all my brothers and sisters are loved by You, and worthy of our love as well.

Vincent Bolduc, Professor of Sociology

First Reading: Isaiah 58:9b-14

Psalm 86:1-6

Gospel: Luke 5:27-32

Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday after Ash Wednesday

In our Christian tradition, introspection is only the beginning. The Lenten season is still new to us; on Wednesday, we received ash on our foreheads and in that act, called to the Creator from the depths of our hearts. We acknowledged Him and welcomed Him to fill us and dwell within us in wholeness during this season. We have contrite hearts; we are humble. But, I hope, we are also comforted – it may be that now, again, we begin to notice the movement of that great creating Spirit within our lives, shaping our thoughts and our actions. For the more our hearts tune to the tender Spirit, the greater the works of compassion we perform.

Our first reading, taken from the ministry of the prophet Isaiah, leaves us thoughtful about the deeper nature of Lent itself. Prayer and action are intrinsically linked and the latter should stem with wisdom and insight from the form, as the Jesuits say. Out of prayer, we find the strength to perform the works of God. From contemplation, we move to action. The prophet urges us; we should feel a pressure and an anxiety, for this, brothers and sisters, is the Spirit of life groaning within us, driving us to action. Feel the groaning of the Spirit. It drives us from the comfort of our homes and from the busyness of our own lives to share with the needy and hurting some of our own inner joy.

Our hearts are filled with great anticipation. The Passion draws near, only a few weeks now separate us from that haunting journey to the cross. We know the route, marked as profoundly by suffering as by surprise and sweet celebration. Can we take our anticipation – the trembling Spirit – and bring that energy to new action? We know we are the Body, so let us now care for all the parts that suffer. Winters here are harsh. Some of us cannot pay for food; some, surely, will grieve at the loss of loved ones; some will need strong hands to shovel away the late snows, to fix frozen pipes; some will need a smiling face to lift them from depression and invigorate them in their old age. We turn outward now, to our own Vermont community — and know that the Body will rejoice on Easter with the Resurrection and the birthing of all things to new life! Our labors will bear fruit. So, let us prepare now, heal the hearts and raise the minds of the suffering to new and joyful thoughts. I challenge us all to do this work, guided by the Spirit.
O God, we tremble so with the Spirit of life.  Gather us now to the present,  that from contemplation we may move to action and heal the Body, which suffers.  O God, how we anticipate You and the coming of Joy!  Amen.

Dylan Renca, ‘13

First Reading: Isaiah 58:1-9a
Psalm 51:3-6a, 18-19
Gospel: Matthew 9:14-15

Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thursday after Ash Wednesday

These readings seem to be telling us something we all innately know – that we must follow in the ways of the Lord.  Doing this will help us to live the best lives possible.  Moses tells us that if we choose to stray from the path of God, then we “will certainly perish.”  However, if we follow God and obey His commandments, we are promised a long life “to live on the land that the Lord swore He would give to [our] fathers.”  In addition to loving God, we must have hope and faith in Him.  Even in times of hardship, we must always remind ourselves to look to God for guidance and assistance.  “Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.”  The second reading serves as a reminder that God is here whenever we need Him.  The Gospel makes it clear that following the path of God is not always easy, but it is surely worthwhile.  As we all know, Jesus did not have an easy life, but we recognize that all that He did was done out of love for God.  God doesn’t promise that life will be easy, only that He will be with us through it.  Thus, it is important for us to remember during this Lenten season to be followers of God, striving to love like Jesus did.
Lord God, help me to always keep You in the center of my heart when choosing my words and actions.  Help me to always remember You and be thankful for Your grace and love in my life.

Merrill Poor, ‘15

First Reading: Deuteronomy 30: 15-20
Psalm 1:1-4, 6
Gospel: Luke 9:22-25

Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday
But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” -Mt 6:1-6

When we give to others with our whole hearts, we are not only giving to them, but giving to God as well. We should never expect gain or recognition from giving, but give as our Lord Jesus, who came down from Heaven and so selflessly gave His life to save us from an existence of sin. During this time of Lent, we strive to remember that we are the ambassadors of Jesus. It is important to recollect that it is not what possessions we own that matter, but the giving of our full selves to the message of God’s mercy, the message of prayer and fast, and work together to follow the way of righteousness and graciousness our Lord offers to each one of us. For when we truly take time in our daily lives to provide in the simplest ways, we receive the greatest repayment of all — the repayment of God our Father.
God our Father, please allow us during this season of Lent to give as selflessly to others as our Lord Jesus gave to us. Help us to take time during our busy lives to reflect on the blessings we encounter every day and focus on seeking mercy and compassion. Amen.

Alex Byrne, ‘14

First Reading: Joel 2:12-18
Psalm 51:3-6a, 12-14, 17
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2
Gospel: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Join us on a Lenten Journey…

Lent is an incredible gift to us.  Some of us receive it with eagerness as a time of healing and growth; others receive it with trepidation of the challenges and sacrifices that Lent can pose; still others receive it with indifference.  And yet regardless of where we are in our spiritual journeys, we are all given an opportunity during these 40 days to turn our hearts back towards God and deepen our relationship with God and others in a special way.  It offers a chance to take time to reflect on our lives and renew our commitment to open our hearts to God through prayer.

With this in mind, the students, faculty, staff, and members of the Saint Michael’s College worshipping community have come together to offer their reflections on the daily Scripture readings and what they are saying to us in our lives they challenge and encourage us to feel God’s presence, love, and forgiveness each day during this sacred time.  We hope that these reflections are ones that inspire and help you grow deeper in your prayer life during the journey of Lent as we prepare for the Resurrection of Christ Jesus!  May we be inspired to open our eyes and see God’s deep, unconditional love present in our lives. 

Please note that these reflections are not intended to represent theological views or statements by Edmundite Campus Ministry or Saint Michael’s College, but rather are a compilation of reflections as written by members of the campus and wider community of worshippers.