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Easter Triduum Reflections 2019

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March 6: Ash Wednesday

Invitation to prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Guide me into and through this holy season of Lent.

Reflection: As we celebrate Ash Wednesday and the beginning of our Lenten season, we hear the Lord’s invitation: “Return to me with your whole heart.” God is inviting us deeper into His mercy and love. It doesn’t matter what our past has been or how often we messed up and wandered away, God still desires an intimate relationship with us. Jesus, Who willingly gave all of Himself for us and to us, now asks that we give all of ourselves to Him. Let us do so during this Lenten season, holding nothing back, but returning to the Lord with our whole heart.

Prayer: Jesus, You gave all of Yourself on the cross for me. Give me the strength and courage needed to give all of myself back to You.

Closing: Spend time today thanking God the Father for all His gifts and blessings, especially the gift of His Son, Jesus.

Fr. Tim Ralston was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in 2010. He has served as parochial vicar for St. Charles Borromeo parish (Kettering) and the Coldwater Cluster (Coldwater). He is currently the pastor at St. Bernadette parish in Amelia.

March 7: Thursday after Ash Wednesday March 7

Invitation to prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to preserver when I feel rejected.

Reflection: In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks words of paradox: “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”

There are many times when people, situations, even life in general seem to cast us aside, reject us as they did Our Lord. But our crosses, no matter how difficult, or how many, pale in comparison to the cross of Christ. Our hardships are a participation in the passion of Christ, who as we know, won for us eternal life.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I pray in gratitude for the blessings as well as the struggles in my life. Help me to seek you in the good, and not so good moments in my life and to come to feel the comfort of your grace.

Closing: Reflect for a few moments on those bear their crosses daily in steadfastness and humility.

Deacon Tim Crooker has been ordained for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati since 2004 and serves as Pastoral Associate at St. James, White Oak and St. Francis Xavier, Downtown.

March 8: Friday after Ash Wednesday

Invitation to prayer: “My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.” — Psalm 51:19

Reflection: In today’s first reading from the Book of Isaiah, we hear God speaking through the voice of the prophet correcting the people for their false understanding of fasting. The people had complained about why God did not see and respond to their fast. In response, the Word of God speaking through the prophet told them of their wickedness, that they had not followed the law, that they had followed their own wicked pursuits. The prophet’s voice then gives them a proper prescription for the fast that God desires: freeing the prisoner and the oppressed, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, and not turning their backs on our own people. These same works of fasting were repeated by Jesus as the essential means of loving God by loving our neighbor.

No doubt by now someone has asked, “What are you giving up for Lent?” While changing a personal habit or depriving oneself of some thing helps us to personally focus on the meaning of Lent, the giving of ourselves as prescribed in Isaiah may offer an entirely different form of fasting. By giving up something of our self, we become more selfless, more giving.

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for the abundance of gifts that you give us each day. Help us to remember that our gifts are meant to be shared, especially with those who are less fortunate. May we always give with a generous heart. We pray in the Holy Name of Jesus, Amen.

Dave Steinwert is a permanent deacon at St. Teresa of Avila Parish in the Price Hill neighborhood of Cincinnati. Deacon Dave has been married to Sherry for 43 years. They have three grown children and four grandchildren. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice Administration from the University of Cincinnati. He earned a Master of Arts in Lay Pastoral Ministry Degree from the Athenaeum of Ohio in 2009. He was ordained to the permanent diaconate in 2013. Dave has been married to Sherry for 43 years. They have three grown children and four grandchildren.

March 9: Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Invitation to prayer: Lord Jesus, give me the strength to embrace the vocation You have given me, be it single, married or religious.

Reflection: In today’s Gospel, Levi, better known as Matthew, responds generously and promptly to the call from Jesus. To celebrate and to show how appreciative he is for his vocation he gives a banquet. This passage of the Gospel shows us that a vocation is something about which we should be very grateful and happy. If we see it only in terms giving things up, and not as a gift from God and something which will enhance us, we can easily become depressed, like the rich young man who, not wanting to give up his possessions, went away sad

We also need to remember that no matter how grave our sins are, Jesus is always asking us to follow Him. He came for those of us who are sinners who are willing to repent.

Prayer: Jesus, open my eyes, my heart and my mind so I can clearly hear and respond to Your call to the vocation You have chosen for me which will be the best way I can find my way to heaven through the abundance of Graces You provide.

Closing
: Take a few moments in silence and think to what vocation God is calling you and how you can surrender even more to His Plan for you.

John O’Maley will be ordained April 27, 2019. He will be assigned to St. Philip the Apostle Church in Morrow, OH. Member of St. Philip for 6 years; lector, choir member and former President of the Pastoral Council. John married Joy, his high school sweetheart, 43 years ago. They grew up in Loogootee, Indiana. They have 4 grown children, 2 of which are adopted, and 5 grandchildren. 1973 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point; retired Captain and Ranger, US Army. He worked at Procter and Gamble for 10 years in manufacturing, marketing and sales.

March 10: First Sunday of Lent

Invitation to prayer: Lord, please be with me in my trials and tribulations.

Reflection: In today’s gospel, Jesus experiences something that I think many of us has experienced – getting kicked when you’re down. He has just gone through a 40-day fast – He is tired and hungry, He is hot and thirsty – and this is when the devil shows up.

In my years of working for justice and God-given dignity, there have been many times when I’ve been exhausted, worn out and seemingly beaten, and this when the doubt and fear (aka the devil) creeps in. “Just give up, it’s not worth it.” “You’re never going to win; people will always be selfish and hate. Why keep trying?” “This prejudice is too ingrained, too much to fight. Don’t waste your energy.”

It is at these points – perhaps more than any others – that God is with us. It is at these times that we remember that Jesus, in all of His humanity, faced the same struggles. We can therefore find strength, find deeper connection with Christ, and keep fighting, knowing that the Holy Spirit is right there with us.

Prayer: Merciful God, help me to keep my heart open to your love and know that – even when the struggle seems too much to bare – you are with me, walking with me and lifting me up.

Closing: Remember the times that you have persevered through difficulty and God has seen you through, and keep your eyes and heart open for those who currently struggling and look for ways to be love to them.

Andrew Musgrave is the Social Action Director for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati

March 11: Monday of the First week of Lent

Invitation to prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to serve you by serving those in my own family.

Reflection: In today’s Gospel, Jesus makes it clear “whatever you did for one of these least … you did for me.”

It can be a temptation to think that the least are only to be found in third world countries, homeless shelters, prisons, or hospitals. Certainly, the least are found in these places and we should serve them as if serving Jesus Christ. But, we must never lose sight that it is our foundational and most necessary vocation to serve the least in our own families. Does my spouse experience my love, affection, and service on a daily basis? Do my children know that they are each loved, valued, and affirmed for who they are as a son or daughter of God, and not valued simply for what they do or accomplish? Do I bear patiently the daily troubles and little annoyances that my family members cause? Am I so consumed with the passing and frivolous things on my phone, that I forget to look up and acknowledge the great dignity and humanity of those around me? Now is the acceptable time take an inventory of how I treat the least in my own family, lest I one day hear those dreaded words of our Lord “Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire… what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.”

Prayer: Lord Jesus, reveal to me the ways in which I have not served the least in my own family and give me the grace to turn to your mercy with a sincere and contrite heart. Let me see your face in the members of my own family and to serve them as if serving you.

Closing: Make an examination of conscience of the ways in which you have failed to serve the least in your own family. In addition to bringing these to the Sacrament of Reconciliation during this season of Lent, write a note to your spouse and children apologizing for your failures and resolving to do your best with God’s grace to love and serve them more faithfully in the future.

Daniel Thimons is the Director, Marriage & Family Evangelization & Discipleship

March 12: Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

Invitation to prayer: Lord Jesus, teach us to forgive the faults of our neighbor as Your forgive us our sins.

Reflection: In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches His disciples how to pray. He doesn’t just help them memorize some well chosen words. Rather He challenges them to speak to God with a kind of humility that recognizes His great power and with a kind of faith that admits their great need of His response.

As we strive during this season of Lent to renew our relationship with our Heavenly Father, it is good to note the prayer that Jesus taught us begins with the words “Our” Father, not “My” Father. Jesus thus helps us realize that we are all children of a loving God, children for whom Jesus gave up His life that we might someday share eternity in His embrace.

Lent reminds us too that when Jesus died to forgive all of us our sins for our sins He in turn calls all of us to forgive any wrong doings of our neighbor. A fitting question arises: How can, as a child of God, expect Him to forgive me if I hesitate to forgive my brothers and sisters?

Prayer: Jesus, teach me to forgive as willingly as You gave up Your life for me.

Closing: Take a few moments to reflect on a person you are finding it difficult to forgive. Could they possibly have offended you more than you have offended God?

Deacon Bill Mullaney. Born in 1937. Graduated college and married Nancy in 1959. Five children, thirteen grandchildren. Ordained to the Diaconate in 1998. Retired from insurance industry after 41 years. Member of Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Cincinnati for 35 years.

March 13: Wednesday of the first week of Lent

Invitation to prayer: Lord, help me to know your will and to repent when I do not act on it.

Reflection: In today’s reading from Jonah, Jonah goes to the people of Nineveh and tells them that God will destroy the city if they do not repent of their evil ways. In the Gospel, Our Lord reflects back on this story in telling His followers that He, the Son of Man, is the sign to the world for people to repent of their sins.

Our modern world tries to trivialize the nature of sin. Often, instead of trying to amend our ways, we often seek ways to convince ourselves that our actions really aren’t that bad at all. We see the influence of the cultures values everywhere in our church ministries – from sacramental preparation to Mass attendance. We seek signs from everywhere, but not always from the one from whom we should be following.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to see that you are the One True Sign and have mercy on me, a sinner.

Closing: Reflect on the ways in which our Lord is showing you the signs of His love and presence.

Brian Caperton is a permanent deacon-candidate in the Archdiocese. I am the pastoral associate for All Saints and St. Vincent Ferrer Churches (the Kenwood Pastoral Region.) I am a graduate of the Athenaeum of Ohio. I am married to Carolyn; have two kids, Ashley and Michael and a grandson, Andrew.

March 14: Thursday of the First Week of Lent

Invitation to prayer: “Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.” –Psalm 138:3

Refection: How do children learn to ask for things? They learn first and foremost by asking their parents. Sometimes they get exactly what they ask for, as long as they ask nicely: “May I please have an apple?” Some things they will not get no matter what: “May I just eat ice cream for dinner?” Sometimes they might get partially what they ask for: “May I have 3 cookies for dessert?” “No, but you may have 2.” Sometimes answers may come with qualifications: “Yes, but only after you finish your chores.” All of these answers are loving answers, even though they are not always “yes”. If we are consistent in how we answer our children, they begin to learn how we answer, and learn what to ask for and how to ask. As Jesus reminds us in today’s Gospel, it is the same way with our loving Father. We learn the mind of God by asking. We grow closer to God by seeking. We learn to trust how God can open doors by not being afraid to knock, and sometimes being very persistent in our knocking.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to keep our relationship open to you by asking for what we need, seeking you in all things, and knocking when we see nothing but closed doors.

Closing: Ask the Lord to help you see what things in your life may be blocking you from a closer relationship with Jesus. Identify just one or two things, and pray for the grace to have that door opened to fuller life in Christ.

Bob Wurzelbacher is the Director of the Office for Respect Life Ministries for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. He received his Master of Arts in Pastoral Theology from the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, TX in 2000. He is married with two young children, 10 and 7.

Friday of the 1st Week of Lent – March 15

Invitation to Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to release my anger so that I might embrace Your love.

Reflection: “Whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement.” That’s the hardest part of today’s Gospel for many of us to accept. We understand responsibility for sinful action, but anger is “merely” a feeling. Am I not allowed to be angry with someone? As long as I don’t act on that anger, what’s the issue?

The issue is that anger DOES cause us to act against someone, even if it’s “only” to avoid them or treat them coldly. By separating ourselves from another due to anger, we separate ourselves from the Lord. How? Well, if we truly believe that we are each created in the image and likeness of God, then our anger against someone leads us to separate ourselves from God’s very image! No wonder we are called to first reconcile with each other before coming to the His table. How can we be at one with Him if we are not at one with His image?

Prayer: Brother Jesus, help me to remain at one with you by letting go of my anger. Help me to forgive without being asked, and to seek forgiveness even when it is not offered. Help me also to forgive myself, and to let go of anger against myself, because I, too, am in Your image!

Closing: Think of someone with whom your relationship is strained. Pray for them now, and through the day. Release any anger against them. Forgive them and seek their forgiveness.

Deacon Conrad Kolis was ordained in 1998 and married in 1981. Father of seven and grandfather of two, he currently serves at both St Vivian Parish and St Bartholomew Parish in Cincinnati.

March 16: Saturday of the First Week of Lent

Invitation to Prayer: “Give me insight, Lord, to know your will. Then I will cherish it with all my heart.”

Reflection: How many of us struggle with the idea of knowing what God wants us to do with our lives? In our youth, we wonder “What will my career be?”, “What college should I attend?”, “Am I called to a vocation as a priest or religious, or to married or single life?”. Later in life, we ponder where we should seek employment, where to live, what candidate to vote for, how much money to save. The list of questions is endless.

Do we take the time to bring our decisions before God? In daily prayer, we need to be asking Him what HE wants us to do with our lives. The It’s not a decision of ours alone. As Catholics, we are called to serve God in all aspects of our life. There is no part of our life that should be disconnected from the will of God. But how can we know His will if we are not consistently asking for guidance and insight through prayer?

Praying to know God’s will not only aides us in our decisions, but provides the additional benefit of knowing that God has influenced the outcome. We can experience the peace of knowing that we have moved forward not of our own efforts alone, but that we have relinquished our will to His. That is a place of great peace!

Prayer: O Lord, I know that Your will is perfect, while mine is flawed. I place all of my decisions into Your divine hands. Help me, Lord, to relinquish my own desires and place my trust in you. Give me insight, Lord, to know your will. Then I will cherish it with all my heart!

Closing: Each morning, start out by identifying the most important decision you will need to make that day, and offer it up to the Lord’s guidance. See if you can do this as part of your Lenten prayer observance each day during Lent.

Deacon Mark Machuga is the Director of the Office of the Diaconate for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. He also serves as a deacon at Our Lady of Victory Parish in Delhi Township. He was ordained in April, 2016. He has been married to his wife Julie for 39 years, and is the father of two and grandfather of three.

March 17: Second Sunday of Lent

Invitation to Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, open my eyes to your glory. Evict from my heart all that does not serve to glorify you, and fill it instead with burning faith and abundant charity.

Reflection: Jesus’ transfiguration is an event that gives three of his disciples a small glimpse at His glory. And when they get this glimpse, they become “afraid.” Surely heavenly glory is something “no eye has seen, nor ear heard.” It overwhelms humans when they encounter it. When the angel appears at the tomb upon Jesus’ resurrection, the guards trembled with fear and “became like dead men.” We cannot comprehend or handle even the smallest dose of the heavenly realm that our senses cannot perceive.

So if a simple glimpse of glory can cause fear and trembling, imagine what a more substantial encounter would do. In that light, Jesus could have simply overwhelmed people with His glory, converting the whole world with power and awe. But He did not wish to make it so easy, or so forceful.

He wants us to come with Him willingly. To follow Christ means just that. To follow. Following implies action. Sometimes that means walking up a mountain or enduring a long journey. Sometimes that means laying down our life. It is rarely comfortable. It means leaving comfort and heading to the unknown.

If our own lives have become comfortable, or if our prayer has become routine or dry, perhaps it is because Jesus has left us behind, so to speak. We are still on the road on which we last saw Him, the one that we became comfortable and rote. He’s up ahead on a more difficult road, asking us to continue to follow Him.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, we give you praise for your great glory, and thank you for the many ways in which you offer yourself to us. Help us to do the same for others through availability, presence and kindness.

Closing: We often have an image of Jesus as he was here on earth. Walking, talking, eating, laughing, and suffering. Ask Jesus to also help us see Him in his glory, to get a foretaste of what is to come, to strengthen us while we continue His work on earth.

Nathan Beiersdorfer is in formation for the diaconate for St. Cecilia Parish in Oakley (ordination anticipated 4/27/19) and is CFO of Archbishop Moeller High School. Nathan is married to Tricia and they have two terrific toddlers, Mary and Jude.

March 18: Monday of the Second Week of Lent

Invitation to Prayer: O Lord, fill me with your mercy and forgiveness towards others.

Reflection: In Luke’s Gospel we are called to be merciful, forgiving, non-judgmental, and non-condemning towards others. “For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”

Pope Francis stated that the greatest expression of “giving” is to forgive. How many times in our lives do we have the opportunity to share the gift of forgiveness with another yet alone ourselves.

Prayer: O Lord, continue to pour out your grace of mercy and forgiveness into my heart that I may share those gifts with others.

Closing Prayer: Today, take a moment to reflect on those that have been merciful and forgiving to you and offer a prayer of gratitude for them.

Deacon Henry Jacquez, ordained April 27, 2013 is the Pastoral Associate Holy Trinity Church – Norwood, Master’s Pastoral Ministry, The Athenaeum of Ohio, married 39 years, 3 children, 4 grandsons. Love the summer conferences at Franciscan University, Steubenville Ohio.

March 19: Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Invitation to Prayer: Lord, help me to live the life you chose for me and to be the person you made me to be.

Reflection: Today we celebrate the Solemn Feast of St. Joseph, father of the Church and foster father of our Lord, Jesus Christ. This is a rare feast day during the Lenten season that allows us a welcome respite from our days of fasting!

In the Gospel we read that Joseph is actually going to flee his role in the story of salvation, but then in a dream an angel reminds him of his identity and gives him a mission: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home… She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus.” Immediately, Joseph responds to this mission and he then becomes the person who brings the “name above any other name” into this world!

Like, St. Joseph, and because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we too are part of a royal line! We are children of God and we have a mission to bring Jesus’ name into the world in our own unique way. How often do we fail to recognize that great identity? How often do we run away from our great mission?! Are we willing, like St. Joseph, to wake up and “do as the Angel of the Lord commands us”?

Prayer: Dear St. Joseph, pray for us that we, like you, might live without fear the life God has planned for us and fulfill the purpose for which we have been created.

Action: Today in the Archdiocese every parish will be open for prayer and confession from 7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. Take time today to reflect on the ways you have neglected God’s plan for your life, and then receive his Grace in the sacrament to renew your dedication to seeking and doing the will of God in your life.

Wayne Topp is the Associate Director of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Vocations office who handles parish support for vocation ministry, youth engagement, and support for seminarians.

March 20 Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent

Invitation to prayer: Lord Jesus, give me the strength necessary to drink the chalice that You Yourself did drink.

Reflection: “Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” This is the question that Jesus poses to James and John in today’s Gospel. And as we today are faced with the crosses of our own lives, this is the same question that Jesus asks of us. “Can you drink this chalice of suffering? Can you follow me all the way to the Cross?”

This is not an easy question for us to answer. We would all love to give a resounding “Yes!” to these questions, showing our willingness to follow Jesus anywhere. But it’s easier said than done, a truth that we realize as we struggle with the trials, sorrows, and sufferings we face each day. Even Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, prays to the Father, asking Him to remove this cup – this cup of suffering. It is a most difficult cup to drink, obviously. But Jesus follows His request by praying, “Not My will, but Yours be done.” Jesus would choose to drink that cup, giving His life “as a ransom for many.” Let us trust in the Father’s will for us, even when it means drinking the chalice the same chalice as Jesus.

Prayer: “Father, not my will, but Yours be done.”

Closing: Strive to bear patiently the crosses of this day, seeking to unite them to the Cross of Christ.

Fr. Tim Ralston was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in 2010. He has served as parochial vicar for St. Charles Borromeo parish (Kettering) and the Coldwater Cluster (Coldwater). He is currently the pastor at St. Bernadette parish in Amelia.

March 21: Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

Invitation to Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to see you in the poor and less fortunate.

Reflection: Jesus speaks today in a parable directed to the Pharisees about the rich man and Lazarus. After living a well-to-do life, the rich man is confronted in the afterlife as to how he neglected and ignored Lazarus, a poor beggar.

One of the hallmarks of Lent is almsgiving. It is a call to increase our awareness of charity towards others. But it shouldn’t stop when Lent ends. Jesus reminds us that our faith will likely be judged by our actions. For the Christian, neglecting those in need is not an option.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I ask you to soften my heart when I encounter those in need and whose human dignity is threatened. Let not my heart judge their worthiness, as only you can see what lies within. Strengthen me with your grace that I may always see your presence in others and respond with compassion.

Closing: Think of those whom you have met this past week you were in need of a helping hand, a tender touch, or a few moments of your undistracted time.

Deacon Tim Crooker has been ordained for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati since 2004 and serves as Pastoral Associate at St. James, White Oak and St. Francis Xavier, Downtown.

March 22: Friday of the Second Week of Lent

Invitation to Prayer: Lord Jesus, teach us to use the gifts You have implanted within us and with which you surround us to produce a bountiful harvest of souls longing for Your kingdom.

Reflection: In today’s Gospel, Jesus again gives us a vivid heads-up alert. He reminds us that each one of us is responsible for the care and use of the many gifts He has given us. He has given us our faith and we are expected to grow it, mature it and share it. But many of us, like all the generations before us, have chosen to ignore our responsibilities and satisfy our own desires while deserting the plan Christ has called us to follow.

Just as the wicked tenants attacked the messengers the vineyard owner sent to collect his goods, and just as the people of old often harmed the prophets God had sent to spread His word, so too

do we sometimes assault Jesus by rejecting His message.

This season of Lent can be seen as another messenger from God, another call to action. It is another opportunity to respond to the challenge given us all, that of managing well the vineyard He placed in our care and custody.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, instill in me a desire to grow in faith and in my commitment to fulfill Your plan for me. Let me to be the best of stewards of all that You entrust to me.

Closing: Take a few moments in silence and consider the times you may have failed to return to God the yield He expects from each of us for all that He has given us.

Deacon Bill Mullaney. Born in 1937. Graduated college and married Nancy in 1959. Five children, thirteen grandchildren. Ordained to the Diaconate in 1998. Retired from insurance industry after 41 years. Member of Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Cincinnati for 35 years.

March 23: Saturday of the Second Week of Lent

Invitation to prayer: Lord help me to love as you loved and forgive as you forgive.

Reflection: Today’s gospel reminds me of a study I read somewhat recently. In summary, it says this: when someone else does something wrong, we attribute it to a character fault (e.g. he made a rude comment to me so he must be a mean person). However, when we do something wrong, we attribute it to a mistake (e.g. I made a rude comment to you, but I was tired and had a really tough day; normally I would never do that). How often have we seen someone do something I consider to be wrong and judged them a bad person, or how often have we seen someone homeless and wondered what bad choices they made to be in that situation (and thought they maybe deserved what they got)? As we consider the perfect sacrifice that Jesus made for us despite our mistakes and the infinite forgiveness God offers us no matter our transgressions, let us consider how we too can sacrifice for and forgive others.

Prayer: Lord, help me to remember that each of us – every single one – was created in your image and that the Holy Spirit abides in all of our hearts. And guide me Lord, to see your presence in every person I meet.

Closing: The next time you are wronged or treated poorly, take time to consider why the offender might have done it, remembering that we all make mistakes but are mostly all loving and kind people.

Andrew Musgrave is the Director of the Catholic Social Action office. He recently moved here from Milwaukee and holds degrees from Notre Dame (BA in theology) and Marquette (MA in public service). He is married to Ana, and they have two daughter, ages 11 and 4.

March 24: Third Sunday of Lent

Invitation to Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to prepare my heart to worthily receive you in Holy Communion.

Reflection: In today’s Second Reading (Year C), St. Paul points to the Israelites who “all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink” but were struck down in the desert as “an example, and … a warning to us.” Each Sunday (as well as every day), we are given the incredible privilege to receive the Lord Jesus, His true body, blood, soul, and divinity, in Holy Communion. While none of us is truly worthy to receive Jesus sacramentally, the Church instructs us to examine our conscience, and if we have unconfessed mortal sin, we are to refrain from receiving the Lord in Holy Communion. This is done out of great love and respect for the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. This hunger for our true spiritual food is meant to compel us to quickly turn from our sin, receive the Sacrament of Penance, and seek to amend our lives to conform to our true calling as a son or daughter of God.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

Closing: Try to develop a habit of receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation monthly throughout the year. This monthly Confession will serve as a great spiritual strength to keep a pure heart in order to worthily receive our Lord in Holy Communion.

Daniel Thimons is the Director, Marriage & Family Evangelization & Discipleship

March 25: Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

Invitation to Prayer: Lord, open my ears that I may hear Your call in my life each and every day.

Reflection: What if Mary had responded differently at the Annunciation? “Please pick someone else. I’m too scared.” Would God have chosen someone else nearby? Would God have waited a few centuries? Or would we still be waiting for the Messiah?

It’s too easy to assume that someone else will take care of the things that we don’t. If I don’t do the dishes, my spouse will. If I don’t carry the trash to the kerb, my father will. If something needs to happen, someone else will do it. Have you ever run out of gas? Who did you expect to put gas into YOUR car?

Each one of us is given many gifts from our Father in Heaven. One gift is Free Will. We can use that Free Will to turn down other gifts: Invitations such as Mary’s; invitations to be better spouses, parents, children; invitations to be kinder, more compassionate, more generous, calmer, more forgiving. Some of those gifts take work. Mary’s gift of that baby took a lot of work: 9 months of pregnancy, 33 years of raising her son, and finally, cradling Him in her arms at His death. The result: Salvation for the whole world. God’s gifts to you may not be as earth-changing as that, but do you want to skip over what He DOES have for you?

Prayer: As we pray in our Archdiocesan Prayer for Vocations, we pray now: Almighty Father, You have created us for some definite purpose. Grant us the grace to know the path You have planned for us in this life and to respond with a generous “Yes.”

Closing: Think of a time when you said “No” to God… or “Not now” or “I’m too afraid” or some other phrase that rejected an invitation from God. Try to think of how that rejection affected not only you, but other people. Pray for all those people who were affected by your refusal, including all those people that you couldn’t even imagine, let alone name. Then ask for the strength to say “yes” the next time.

Deacon Conrad Kolis was ordained in 1998. He has served at St James of the Valley, and currently serves at both St Vivian Parish and St Bartholomew Parish in Cincinnati. Married in 1981 he is father of seven and grandfather of two.

March 26, 2019 Tuesday of the Third week of Lent

Invitation to Prayer: Lord, teach me to forgive as you forgive.

Reflection: Jesus told us that we must love our neighbor. He never told us that we had to “like” anyone. Forgiveness can be one of the toughest things that we can do, especially if someone has hurt us deeply. But our Lord demands that we not only forgive, but that we forgive not seven times but seventy seven times. This is one of the ways in which we share in the cross of our Lord. We bare patiently the wrongs that others have done to us. We must also seek the forgiveness of others that we may have wronged. This includes the wrongs we have committed to God. Both “what we have done and what we have failed to do.”

The second part is what we should meditate upon – what have we failed to do that we should have done.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, give me the courage to forgive those in my life that need my forgive and never let me tire of seeking your forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Closing: Reflect and pray for those in need of our forgiveness.

Brian Caperton is a permanent deacon-candidate in the Archdiocese. I am the pastoral associate for All Saints and St. Vincent Ferrer Churches (the Kenwood Pastoral Region.) I am a graduate of the Athenaeum of Ohio. I am married to Carolyn; have two kids, Ashley and Michael and a grandson, Andrew.


March 27: Wednesday of the Third week of Lent

Invitation to Prayer: Lord Jesus, I surrender to You so You can perfect me and transform me into the Saint You intended me to be.

Reflection: In today’s Gospel, Jesus states that He completely fulfilled the Mosaic Law and OT prophecies. The New Covenant thus includes and concludes the Old Covenant; it both perfects it and transforms it. In the Christian life, the power of God’s Spirit is necessary if we are to obey the Law and grow in holiness.

When we offer up ourselves during mass, let Jesus perfect and transform us along with the Bread and Wine so we can glorify God the Father with our life.

Prayer: Jesus, help me thoroughly examine my life and identify those things that I must change and eliminate so when I place my life on that Eucharistic table during mass, it will be transformed into something meaningful that You can use to spread your Kingdom.

Closing: Take a few moments in silence and think about how you can grow in holiness and make an even greater gift to God at the next mass you attend.

John O’Maley will be ordained April 27, 2019. He will be assigned to St. Philip the Apostle Church in Morrow, OH. Member of St. Philip for 6 years; lector, choir member and former President of the Pastoral Council. John married Joy, his high school sweetheart, 43 years ago. They grew up in Loogootee, Indiana. They have 4 grown children, 2 of which are adopted, and 5 grandchildren. 1973 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point; retired Captain and Ranger, US Army. He worked at Procter and Gamble for 10 years in manufacturing, marketing and sales.

March 28: Thursday of the Third week of Lent

Invitation to Prayer: O Lord, open the ears of my heart so that I may hear your call !

Reflection: Today’s readings are about hardness of heart. God speaks to us in shouts and often in soft whisper of everyday life. He speaks to you and me through the powerful beauty miracles of nature and in the soft cries of those who need our help. It is up to each of us as disciples of Jesus, to be sensitive to the cries of those in need, to listen for the soft whispers of those around us. As Jeremiah says in today’s first reading: “listen to my voice then I shall be your God and you shall be my people.”

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I am trying to come closer to you this Lent. Help me to be your eyes and ears and most importantly your heart to those who are in need. Don’t let me live with a judgmental hardness to the cries of your poor.

Closing: Today, find a way to listen to the news of the day with Christ’s heart.

Deacon Mike Mahoney and his wife Ann moved to Dayton from New York and joined the parish in 2005. Together they served as our Directors of Faith Formation from 2006 until 2012 when they retired at St. Henry Parish in Dayton.  Though retired, Mike continues to serve the parish as a permanent deacon and assists with the RCIA program. He has extensive experience in the education field as a teacher and school administrator, and in parish ministry as a DRE and Youth Minister.

March 29: Friday of the Third week of Lent 

Invitation to Prayer: Lord Jesus, give me the strength to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Reflection: Today, on this the 4th Friday in Lent, at a time when we feel deeply the weight and struggle of our penances and when we take on an additional Friday penance of fasting from meat, the Church reminds us of what lies at the very core of Lent: love. This day we are reminded that the first of all commandments is to love God. We are invited to reflect on our love of God. Are we loving God with our whole being? Are we allowing our penances to embitter us or are we utilizing them to shed our love for other things as we grow deeper in love with God?

Typically, when we reflect on this passage, we think of loving God with our whole heart, soul, or strength. Let us now take a moment to reflect on this question: are we loving God with our whole mind? A quick Wikipedia search on the mind tells us that our mind, “is a set of cognitive faculties including consciousness, imagination, perception, thinking, judgement, language and memory.” Let us then reflect on this: are we loving God with our imagination, in our perception, in how we think, in how we judge, in how we speak, in what we remember, and in our very consciousness?

Prayer: Jesus, help me to love you with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. Show me what it means to love like you love and to love God and others always. Teach me what it means to love you with my whole mind.

Closing: Take a few moments in silence to think of how you perceive the world, how you think about the world, how you judge, how you speak, what you remember, etc… Is there love in these things? What’s one concrete thing you can do today to love the Lord more with in your mind than you ever have before?

Benj Klare is the Associate Director for the Office for Marriage & Family Evangelization & Discipleship and Coordinator of Archdiocesan Anti-Pornography Initiative

March 30: Saturday of the Third week of Lent

Invitation to Prayer: Lord Jesus, teach me how to pray always. Not only with words and posture, but to make everything I do a prayer.

Reflection: When the Pharisee, “took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself,” was he speaking that prayer in silence, or actually speaking the prayer about himself? He certainly had enough good things to say about himself. In fact, in this story the Pharisee is like a cartoon character, a perfect example of a hypocrite and very easy to dislike. So to this Pharisee, do I find myself saying, “I thank you Lord that I’m not like THAT?”

St. Augustine notes that this Pharisee seemed to think that he alone was just, in need of nothing from God and already overwhelmed with merits and virtues.

Instead, God loves the humble prayer and the petition of the contrite person. He wants us to ask for things and desires to give them to us. The tax collector struck his breast when praying, convicting himself of his sins and asking God to forgive. Where sin abounded, grace did more abound (Rom 5:20).

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Closing:  This lent, let us take the opportunity to make a thorough examination of our own consciences and go to confession. Jesus is waiting there, and wants us to ask so that He can give.

Nathan Beiersdorfer is in formation for the diaconate for St. Cecilia Parish in Oakley (ordination anticipated 4/27/19) and is CFO of Archbishop Moeller High School. Nathan is married to Tricia and they have two terrific toddlers, Mary and Jude.

March 31: Fourth Sunday of Lent

Invitation to Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, open my heart to see the great way you are active in the life of all God’s children.

Reflection: On this fourth Sunday of Lent, we take yet another break from the dark days of Lent to remember the great hope we have in our own salvation. In today’s Gospel reading (for those not hearing the Scrutiny readings), we hear this toward the end of the Parable of the Prodigal Son: “He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him.”

Why shouldn’t he be angry? Why shouldn’t he stay way from the party feeling cheated? He’s the faithful son who has loved his Father and served him all along! But what we might not notice is the fact that by doing exactly these things, he removes himself from the presence of his father and separates himself from the family.

So many times in our lives, we allow someone’s past dictate how we treat him now. We’re quick to hold a grudge or quick to think more highly of ourselves because we didn’t go astray. All the while, we never recognize that it is only by God’s grace that we have been able to stay faithful. Our pride gets in the way of us joining in the celebration of a brother or sister coming back to life!

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, you suffered and died for all our sins and through your resurrection you open the gates of heaven. Please help us to recognize this great gift you offer to all of us and to celebrate with much rejoicing the return of our brothers and sisters.

Action: Take time today to tell at least one person why you are so glad God has placed him or her in your life and pray with great hope for those who have left the Church.

Wayne Topp is the Associate Director of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Vocations office who handles parish support for vocation ministry, youth engagement, and support for seminarians.


April 1: Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Invitation to Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus help my unbelief.

Reflection: In today’s Gospel, a royal official seeks Jesus healing gift for his son. His strong belief in who Jesus is, overcomes even Jesus remark back to him “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.”

Believing in Jesus, who he is and his healing gift is no easy task. A dear friend shared with me before his by-pass surgery this quote from St. Faustina; “A humble soul does not trust itself, but places all its confidence in God.” My dear friend and the royal official placed all their confidence in Jesus and both came away believing.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, through the heart of St. Faustina, may we go before Jesus with a humble heart and place all my confidence in Him.

Closing
: On this April’s Fools Day, a day for practical jokes and hoaxes, share with someone your belief, your confidence, your encounter with Jesus. May the Lord find you ready to share your confidence in Jesus.

Deacon Henry Jacquez, ordained April 27th, 2013 Pastoral Associate Holy Trinity Church – Norwood, Master’s Pastoral Ministry, The Athenaeum of Ohio, married 39 years, 3 children, 4 grandsons. Love the summer conferences at Franciscan University, Steubenville Ohio.

Tuesday April 2: Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Invitation to Prayer: Lord Jesus, make me well.

Reflection: In our Gospel reading for today, Jesus heals a man who had been ill for 38 years. Jesus, before healing him, asks the man, “Do you want to be well?” This may seem like a strange question. We would assume someone who has been suffering illness for 38 years would definitely want to be healed. But that’s not always the case. We see this clearly in regards to sin in our lives. Sin wounds us and also wounds our relationships with God and with others. We know this. We realize how much damage sin does in our lives.

Yet, we may have those moments where we’re not ready to allow Jesus to remove those sins. We continue to hold on to them. One can think of St. Augustine’s famous prayer, “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.”

Jesus wants to make us well, and to do this here and now. He wants to set us free from sin, especially in Confession. If we truly desire to be well, let us then seek out His mercy and the forgiveness of our sins. Then, like the unnamed man in the Gospel, Jesus will gaze on us lovingly and say, “Look, you are well.”

Prayer: Jesus, set me free from all that wounds me and let me know the healing that only You can provide.

Closing: Spend time today examining your conscience, asking the Lord to grant you the desire to truly be well.

Fr. Tim Ralston was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in 2010. He has served as parochial vicar for St. Charles Borromeo parish (Kettering) and the Coldwater Cluster (Coldwater). He is currently the pastor at St. Bernadette parish in Amelia.

April 3: Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Invitation to Prayer: Lord Jesus, teach me to love the Father as you love Him.

Reflection: Imagine being labeled blasphemous because you called God your Father. Yet in today’s Gospel that is exactly what happens to Jesus. Our understanding of Jesus message is an invitation be not only call God our Father but to become His children by what we say and do.

Jesus reaffirms his mission as the One who is sent by God to prepare the world for the final judgement. During the season of Lent we reflect more deeply on what this means in our lives. By listening to the words of Jesus we are heeding the Word of God.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant that my ears may be open to hear your words and may they find fertile ground in my heart. Like you, I desire to do the will of God, whom you taught us to call Our Father. May my thoughts, words, and actions find favor with God today, and in the hour that is yet to come.

Closing: Reflect on Jesus saying that the Father has given judgement over to Him, and that those who hear and believe in the One who sent Jesus will have eternal life..

Deacon Tim Crooker has been ordained for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati since 2004 and serves as Pastoral Associate at St. James, White Oak and St. Francis Xavier, Downtown.

April 4: Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Invitation to Prayer: “They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them, making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it.” — Exodus 32:8

Reflection: It didn’t take long for the ancient Israelites to lose focus about the reason for their journey. Moses was gone for forty days and they gave up on waiting for him, and they forgot about God. They gathered together their most expensive worldly possessions, their jewelry. They melted them down and molded them into a golden calf. They would then worship their own worldly possessions on an altar as their god. Even with the miracles that had happened to them on their journey, their faith was still weak.

We have our own forty days of Lent to navigate through the distractions that can challenge our faith and our resolve. We have something far greater than Moses to keep us focused. God is not hidden in a cloud on some far off mountain. We have Jesus present in our midst in the Holy Eucharist to feed us and give us the grace to remain steadfast on our journey toward Easter.

Prayer: Lord God, we thank you for the gift of Jesus who came into the world to teach us how to live. Thank you for the Real Presence of Jesus, who is present on the altar at Mass and in the tabernacle. Help us with your grace to remain focused on Jesus as we journey ever closer to you. We pray in the Holy Name of Jesus, Amen.

Deacon Dave Steinwert serves at St. Teresa of Avila Parish in Cincinnati. He writes a weekly reflection in the parish bulletin in a section entitled “The Deacon’s Corner”.

April 5: Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Invitation to Prayer: Lord Jesus, give me the strength to make the necessary changes in my life so as to honor The Father by embracing my Catholic faith.

Reflection: In the Gospel today, the Jews argue whether Jesus is the Messiah, a prophet, or an imposter; they do not know where he gets his wisdom from; they are short-tempered; Despite the signs they have seen (miracles, teaching) they do not want to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Perhaps some, thinking that he came from Nazareth and was the son of Joseph and Mary, cannot see how this fits in with the notion usually taken from Isaiah’s prophecy. They also did not want to accept his teaching because it demanded a mental and moral conversion.

We must be willing to accept all teachings of the Catholic Church. We must be willing to make mental and moral conversions so we can embrace the precious gift of our faith.

Prayer: Jesus, open my eyes to those areas of my life that You are asking me to change, let go of or transforms so I can glorify Your heavenly Father.

Closing: Take a few moments in silence and think of what one thing you will change today for the Glory of God.

John O’Maley will be ordained April 27, 2019. He will be assigned to St. Philip the Apostle Church in Morrow, OH. Member of St. Philip for 6 years; lector, choir member and former President of the Pastoral Council. John married Joy, his high school sweetheart, 43 years ago. They grew up in Loogootee, Indiana. They have 4 grown children, 2 of which are adopted, and 5 grandchildren. 1973 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point; retired Captain and Ranger, US Army. He worked at Procter and Gamble for 10 years in manufacturing, marketing and sales.

April 6: Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Invitation to prayer: Lord, help us to stand strong in our faith, even if we are standing alone.

Reflection: In today’s gospel, we encounter many confused people. The crowd is confused because of Jesus’ origins, the guards are confused because of Jesus’ teachings, and Nicodemus is confused by the Pharisees’ condemnation. We all know how this story turns out, and it makes me think of those folks who were in the minority, who saw that it wasn’t right to arrest and crucify Jesus – even though the authorities insisted that it was right. I think we can all agree that it’s sometimes difficult to stand up for what is right, especially when it isn’t popular. Too often we hear messages of hate, prejudice, and judgement; those messages are often loud and persistent; and sometimes they are coming from our leaders (whether political, religious or otherwise). It is thus challenging to speak up, to stand firmly on the side of love and compassion, to maybe be the lone voice of reason. Thankfully, we have a long history of saints and martyrs to bolster us against hatred and guide us to manifest Christ’s love (not to mention God walking with us every step of the way).

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we know that you stood firm in your message of unconditional love, forgiveness and welcome, and we pray that you support us as we try to follow in your path.

Closing
: When you hear a message of prejudice or condemnation, hatred or anger, ask God to help you find a way to meet that message with boundless love and compassion.

Andrew Musgrave is the Director of the Catholic Social Action office. He recently moved here from Milwaukee and holds degrees from Notre Dame (BA in theology) and Marquette (MA in public service). He is married to Ana, and they have two daughter, ages 11 and 4.

April 7: Fifth Sunday of Lent

Invitation to Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to know that you are with me always, even when I don’t feel your presence.

Reflection: You may have the experience of entering Church today, as you do every Sunday, only to discover that the crucifix and the religious statues and images are all veiled in purple cloth. As we enter Passiontide (the last two weeks of Lent), the Church traditionally covers all religious images except the Stations of the Cross. There is a feeling of absence and emptiness as we look for an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, St. Therese, St. Anthony, and others in God’s heavenly kingdom, yet do not find them.

The covering of sacred images is meant to give us an experience of the lover in the Song of Songs, “Let me seek him whom my soul loves. I sought him but I did not find him;” or the experience of Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him;” or the cry of the Psalmist “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
In truth, every faithful follower of Jesus Christ will have some experience, or several experiences in a lifetime of this “dark night” when God seems to me to be distant or absent or silent. God permits each of us to pass through this “dark night” in order that our faith may be strengthened and matured. By fidelity to daily prayer and the daily duties of our state in life in the midst of the absence of spiritual consolations, our faith grows, blossoms, and matures.

As the priest elevates our Lord in the Sacred Host at Mass today, we can pray in our hearts “my Lord and my God!” We can pray to see with the eyes of faith the Jesus is always near us at every moment, especially in our moments of trial and desolation when we do not feel His presence. For Jesus Himself promised “behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen in me the virtues of faith, hope, and love. Grant me the grace of following You with fidelity and constancy, especially in those times when I don’t feel Your presence. Help me to know that You are with me always.

Closing: Develop a habit of beginning each day with a morning offering. Continue to say this prayer each morning whether or not you feel like praying it.

Dan Thimons is the Director of the Office for Marriage & Family Evangelization & Discipleship

April 8: Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Invitation to Prayer: Jesus, help me to know you so that I may always walk in the light and help others to find their way.

Reflection: Doubt. We doubt things even when we know what the truth is. Perhaps we often try to convince ourselves of an alternate truth that more conforms to the way we wish things were. We always need proof. This can often be the case with our Catholic faith. Following Christ is not always easy. Pursuing a vocation in Christ’s service is difficult. But we must always be aware of the fact that we are testifying on behalf of Christ and of the One who sent Him with our words and with our life. He is the Divine Truth. We know Him and we know the Father. We need to help others be a child of the light. We, as Christians, need to be the proof that others seek when we want to expose the truth. We need to bring others into the light so they can know the Father.

Prayer: Jesus, when people ask “Who is your Father?” make me a person who it can be said “If you know me, you know the Father.”

Closing: Take a moment and look for examples of ways you know the Father in your life.

Brian Caperton is a permanent deacon-candidate in the Archdiocese. I am the pastoral associate for All Saints and St. Vincent Ferrer Churches (the Kenwood Pastoral Region.) I am a graduate of the Athenaeum of Ohio. I am married to Carolyn; have two kids, Ashley and Michael and a grandson, Andrew.

April 9: Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Invitation to Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant me the grace of faith, the grace to believe that YOU ARE.

Reflection: Jesus says in the Gospel reading today, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM.” When Jesus uses the expression, “I AM,” he is recalling the account of Moses before the burning bush when Moses asks for God’s name and God says His name is “I AM.” Thus, Jesus is telling us that we will recognize him as God at the cross.

This then is what we are invited to reflect on: that we will realize Jesus’ divinity at the cross, through his suffering out of love of us. This teaches us a few things: 1. If we doubt in Jesus or that Jesus is God, we must meditate upon his suffering upon the cross, 2. If we wish to be like Jesus, we must also suffer for love of God and man (this is in part what lent invites us to do), 3. Lent points us to look to the cross, just as Jesus does in this Gospel. These last few days of lent then, as we approach the paschal mystery, let us fix our eyes and minds upon the cross, reflecting and meditating upon it, for it is there that we shall find who Jesus is.

Prayer: Jesus, help me to fix my eyes upon the cross these last few days of lent. Lord, grant me the grace to continually offer my prayers and penances this lent in union with your sacrifice on the cross.

Closing: In what ways have we failed to carry our cross this lent? As we approach Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we are invited not to beat ourselves up for our missteps nor to abandon our prayers, fasting, and almsgiving altogether, but rather to redouble our efforts. What concrete steps can you take now to strengthen your Lenten commitments of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving?

Benj Klare is the Associate Director for the Office for Marriage & Family Evangelization & Discipleship and Coordinator of Archdiocesan Anti-Pornography Initiative.

April 10: Wednesday of the 5th Week of Lent

Invitation to Prayer: Lord Jesus, free me from the chains of my own self-importance that I might hear Your voice this day.

Reflection: We seem to relish when Jesus makes His challengers squirm with His simple words. Today, though, He challenged His supporters — those who believed in Him. They told Him “We are descendants of Abraham” and “Abraham is our father” and “We have one Father, God” and yet Jesus was not satisfied. Each time, He said, in essence: “Yes, you are. So why don’t you ACT as if you are?” Jesus didn’t deny their claims, He simply challenged them to live up to their claims.

How many claims do we make about our own faith lives? Do we live up to them? Or do we only occasionally “validate our parking” by once-in-a-while actions? Hitting a home run on your first at-bat doesn’t make you a career “power slugger” all by itself. If we truly believe, then we need ACT as if we believe — constantly. Do your actions allow others to see your faith? Is your faith an example and an encouragement to others?

Prayer: Dear Jesus, help me to have the strength of faith that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego displayed when they were put to the test.

Closing: Think about how you show your faith to the world, and especially to close friends and family. During each remaining day of Lent, find one more way to align your actions with your professed beliefs.

Deacon Conrad Kolis was ordained in 1998. Currently serving at both St Vivian Parish and St Bartholomew Parish in Cincinnati, he has also served at St James of the Valley. Married in 1981 he is father of seven and grandfather of two.

April 11: Thursday of the 5th Week of Lent

Invitation to Prayer: Submit to God; resist the devil and he will take flight. Draw close to God and he will draw close to you. James 4: 7-8

Reflection: During Lent, we tend to become acutely aware of our temptations and the sins that sometimes follow. We reflect on the times we have been weak and have fallen away from a close relationship with God. Through the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, we attempt to reorient our spiritual lives away from evil and towards the Good – God Himself.

We are reassured in the book of James that our efforts are not in vain. When we submit ourselves to living a life aligned with God’s commands and rejecting the glamour of sin, we are showing God that we desire to be close to Him once again. And God’s response? His love is so perfect that when we draw ourselves to Him, He draws even closer to us.

Prayer: Lord, I love you. But there are times when I haven’t shown my love. I’ve been selfish and I’ve allowed myself to be distracted from loving you. I pledge to flee from the bonds of my selfishness and draw myself closer to you throughout my Lenten journey. Then at Easter, I will rejoice in the celebration of your love for all people, and I will rest in the warmth of your embrace.

Closing: Will you take the first step today? Think about one way you can flee from evil today and draw yourself closer to God.

Deacon Mark Machuga is the Director of the Office of the Diaconate for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.  He also serves as a deacon at Our Lady of Victory Parish in Delhi Township.  He was ordained in April, 2016.  He has been  married to his wife Julie for 39 years, and is the father of two and grandfather of three.

April 12: Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Invitation to Prayer: Lord Jesus, help my actions to reflect my words, and my words to reflect my love for you.

Reflection: Speaking “on behalf” of God can be a difficult thing, yet every Christian is called to do with our prophetic office. Yet, in today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges the Jews to hear his words in light of his actions. He performed miracles in their midst, yet turn a blind eye to them and instead wanted to condemn him for blasphemy. They, like we, have trouble understanding the mystery that is Jesus. God, yet man. So, he challenged them to look at his works instead, to refocus their attention on something they could better reconcile. Words can be argued and disputed. Works cannot be contradicted, as they speak for themselves. If a man says he is God, that’s one thing. If a man shows He is God, that is quite another.

The same holds for us. Bl. Fulton Sheen noted that we are living in a new age in which the only argument we have left to convince others is holiness. “The world has heard every other argument and is ready to reject them all, all except one: holiness.”

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to shed those things that prevent me from being an effective witness. My speech, my thoughts, my habits, my desires. Fill my heart instead with gifts of wisdom, grace and holiness.

Closing: As Holy Week nears, we ask for the courage to take up our own crosses, unite them with Jesus’ cross, and by our actions, inspire others to seek you.

Nathan Beiersdorfer is in formation for the diaconate for St. Cecilia Parish in Oakley and is CFO of Archbishop Moeller High School. Nathan is married to Tricia and they have two terrific toddlers, Mary (3) and Jude (2).

April 13: Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Invitation to Prayer: Lord, help me to turn my doubt into trust.

Reflection: Today is the last day before Holy Week, and the Gospel today sets the stage for what is about to happen. The Pharisees begin to make plans to capture Jesus and eliminate him as a threat to their rule and Jesus goes into hiding and actually leaves Jerusalem just before the feast of Passover. At the end of the gospel the many people who have made their annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem are left searching for Jesus, saying, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast?”

Ironically, of course, it is Jesus who will become the feast!

In our everyday walk, as we attempt to live out the vocation God has placed on our hearts, there will be times when Jesus seems to be silent, or to be hidden from our view. Are we so quick to doubt that Jesus will not bring to fulfillment His plan for our lives? In my limited understanding of who God has made me to be, have I placed limits on what the Holy Spirit will be able to do in my life?

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, at those times in our life when you must be silent, or must be hidden from view, grant us the grace to trust all the more in your divine plan for our lives.

Action: In the early 1900s, Jesus revealed to Sr. Consolata Betrone the following message: “Follow Me in a ceaseless act of love, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute; I Myself will take care of all the rest, I Myself will provide.” Today, make an effort to think not of what God wants you to do, but instead, to think only of Loving God and putting total trust in His plan.

 Wayne Topp is the Associate Director of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Vocations office who handles parish support for vocation ministry, youth engagement, and support for seminarians.

April 14: Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

Invitation to Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus into your hands I commend my spirit.

Reflection: I’m struck with a deep sadness at the thought of my Lord’s passion and death in the readings today. The humiliations, the false accusations, the scourging, the jeering soldiers, the chief priest and scribes accusing him, the thorns, the nails, the self-emptying sacrifice for us; “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

In our daily prayer, how often do we ponder the depths of our Lord’s pain and suffering from our own offenses against him? How many times have we hurt him with our unbelief, doubts, worries, fears, insecurities, and withhold our mercy, forgiveness, and even acts of kindness towards our neighbor.

Prayer: My Dear Lord Jesus, into your hands I commend my spirit in all its weaknesses, failures, miss opportunities to share my gifts and talents with others, forgive me Lord.

Closing: Through this Holy week, may we gather ourselves in the presence of Jesus accompanying him in his walk toward Calvary and console him as he consoles us.

Deacon Henry Jacquez, ordained April 27th, 2013 Pastoral Associate Holy Trinity Church – Norwood, Master’s Pastoral Ministry, The Athenaeum of Ohio, married 39 years, 3 children, 4 grandsons. Love the summer conferences at Franciscan University, Steubenville Ohio.

April 15: Monday of Holy Week

Invitation to Prayer: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” –Romans 5:8

Reflection: (John 12:1-11) Today’s Gospel is about extravagance and excess, not something we typically associate with Lent. Mary pours an entire bottle of expensive perfume—apparently worth nearly a year’s wages for a daily laborer—anointing Jesus’ feet. Judas rebukes her, saying it is a waste that should have been given to the poor. As logical and sensible as that rebuke is, the Gospel writer informs us that Judas wasn’t really concerned for the poor. He was the keeper of the money bag for the poor, and stole from it. Regardless, Mary is obviously making an excessive outpouring of love in recognition of who Jesus is, what He is about to do, and how He will die. She didn’t let pious sensibilities stop her from loving Jesus as extravagantly as she could, just as God does for us.

Prayer: Help me to contemplate this week how extravagant Your love is for me, that You suffered, died and rose again for me, a sinner. May I receive the grace to see how I can give my life more fully to You, and love with extravagance as You do.

Closing: Just like the scent of ointment fills a house, the scent of prayer should also fill our lives. Holy Week invites us to spend more time with Jesus, just to bask in the extravagance of His love, the price He paid for our salvation. Whatever time you normally spend in prayer each day, try to double it this Holy week.

Bob Wurzelbacher is the Director of the Office for Respect Life Ministries for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. He received his Master of Arts in Pastoral Theology from the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, TX in 2000. He is married with two young children, 10 and 7.

April 16: Tuesday of Holy Week

Invitation to Prayer: Lord Jesus, open my heart to the hope that you offer, flawed as I am.

Reflection: Today’s Gospel mentions two betrayals. First is Judas, going off to betray Jesus to the leaders. The second is the prediction of Peter’s denial. Denial is another form of betrayal.
We, too, betray Jesus – often, and perhaps quite regularly – when we act contrary to His wishes. That may be in denying, or even just hiding, our faith. But it’s also in our betrayals of others – the body of Christ. When we fail those in need, those who are hurting, those who mourn, those who hunger, those who are strangers, and so many others that Jesus has mentioned in His ministry on earth, then we have betrayed our Lord. When we shun people, gossip about people, act unjustly towards people, or are otherwise hurtful, we are visibly denying the faith that we profess in the Creed and in the Lord’s Prayer.

Fortunately, Jesus offers us hope. Though we may not be ready to follow Him to heaven this very day, we still have the opportunity to follow Him at the appointed time. That’s true, even though He knows that we will betray Him again, multiple times. He continues to forgive us when we ask. That forgiveness is our hope for eternity!

Prayer: Dear Jesus, help me to be a faithful servant to You. Thank You for the hope of eternal life with You, which is available through Your forgiveness. The cross is Your ultimate human act of forgiveness to all people. Help me to remember Your forgiveness when I need to forgive others or to beg their forgiveness.

Closing: On Tuesday of Holy Week, we celebrate the Chrism Mass, during which the Archbishop will bless our three holy oils: Oil of Catechumens, Oil of the Infirm, and the Sacred Chrism. These oils are used in the sacraments throughout the diocese in the coming year. They are signs of God’s love and mercy. Thus, they are signs of HOPE! As we approach Easter Sunday consider ways that YOU can be a sign of hope for others.

Deacon Conrad Kolis was ordained from St Bartholomew parish in 1998. Currently serving at both St Vivian parish and St Bartholomew parish in Cincinnati, he also served 14 years at St James of the Valley, Wyoming. Married in 1981 he is father of seven and grandfather of two.

April 17: Wednesday of Holy Week

Invitation to Prayer: Lord Jesus, keep me always close to your Most Sacred Heart.

Reflection: Today is traditionally known as “Spy Wednesday,” the day that Judas was paid a measly 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus and hand Him over for crucifixion. Just six weeks ago our Churches were packed for Ash Wednesday as we all received the mark of ashes along with the charge to “repent and believe in the Gospel.” Looking over these past six weeks, how often have I fallen short and have needed to “repent” time and time again?

Judas and St. Peter both betrayed Jesus, but they came to two very different ends. The Lord calls us to greater humility following the example of St. Peter who “went out and began to weep bitterly” after his betrayal of Jesus. Because of his sincere repentance, St. Peter was called by our Lord to lead the Church and become a great Saint. Judas, on the other hand, refused the mercy of Jesus and “bought a parcel of land with the wages of his iniquity, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle, and all his insides spilled out.” Judas didn’t suddenly decide to betray Jesus. He “was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions.” He desired to transform Jesus into a worldly Messiah, rather than allowing himself to be transformed by Jesus and His saving message.

Do I act like Judas by wanting Jesus to conform to my plans and desires, rather than having an openness to His saving truth? Do I follow in the footsteps of Judas by justifying small sins as “no big deal”? If we are truthful and honest, we can all answer “yes” to these questions. So the real question is not whether or not I have betrayed Jesus, but will I repent like St. Peter and receive the mercy of Jesus, or will I remain obstinate in my sin and arrive at an end like Judas?

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, as we begin these most solemn three days in the Church, grant me humility that I may acknowledge my sins and turn to you with true repentance. Grant me the grace to celebrate the Sacred Triduum with full attentiveness and devotion, ever thankful for your sacrifice for my salvation.

Closing: Make a nightly examination of conscience and turn to the Lord’s mercy with sincere repentance.

Daniel Thimons is the Director, Marriage & Family Evangelization & Discipleship

April 18: Holy Thursday – Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Invitation to Prayer: Lord Jesus, give me a heart to serve.

Reflection: It’s Holy Thursday. Today, we begin our final journey to Calvary with Jesus and we get to enter into one of the most beautiful scenes in all of scripture, the Last Supper. It is during this meal that Jesus truly reveals with tenderness and determination the plan for His Kingdom, and for his followers, for all time.

Today’s account begins very simply: “He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end” (Jn. 13: 1). He then goes on to express that love through humility and service. It is always striking to me to think of the power of that act. If ever there was a time that Jesus deserved to just sit back and be served, it was “on the night before he was to suffer.” Instead, he takes off his garments that signified his status and rank among the group, and became the least of all and servant to all. In our own lives, we can get so caught up in our own importance and self-worth, or we can get caught up in our own struggles and suffering. We start to believe that we deserve to be served, not the other way around. However, Jesus makes it clear today that we cannot get caught up in our own needs, we cannot get caught up in our own suffering; in order to be like Christ, we must be ready to humble ourselves, take off our outer symbols of status and importance, and serve.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have given us the example of a true servant leader. Grant us the grace to follow your example and to serve without expectation of receiving anything in return.

Action: Begin a service challenge in your home. Have each person look for ways to serve the other members of the family. At the end of the day, discuss all the ways you served one another. Thank the Lord and ask for the grace to find more ways to serve tomorrow.

Wayne Topp is the Associate Director of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Vocations office who handles parish support for vocation ministry, youth engagement, and support for seminarians.

April 19: Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion

Invitation to Prayer: “Behold the wood of the cross, on which is hung the salvation of the world.” (From the Solemn Celebration of the Passion of the Lord)

Reflection: The cross. The symbol of Christianity. This symbol of Christ’s love for us is ever present in our lives. It adorns the walls of our homes, churches, schools and hospitals. It hangs from our necks, our rosaries and perhaps from our rearview mirrors. We see it on everything from clothing to jewelry to grave stones.

Does its ubiquitous presence cause us to disregard its significance in salvation history?

Today, in the solemn but awesome celebration of the Passion of the Lord, we have the opportunity to give reverence to the cross. During the Good Friday service, each of us approaches the cross to venerate it. In a powerfully humbling gesture we show our Lord what His death on the cross means to us. How will you approach the cross this Good Friday? Will our personal pride or fear of looking silly allow us to simply give a casual nod to the cross? Or will we fall on our knees at the foot of the cross, with tears in our eyes and sorrow in our hearts, recognizing the incredible love which Jesus showed for me by enduring the unimaginable suffering of His death?

The celebration of Good Friday is solemn, but not sad. It is a time when we reflect upon how our sins nailed Jesus to the cross. But it is also a time to give Him gratitude from the depths of our hearts for the gift of love and salvation that He gives to us through the cross. And our gift back to Him? Let it be complete repentance from our past sinfulness, true gratitude for the forgiveness of our sins and the beginning of a new life with Him as he rises on Easter morning.

Prayer: Jesus, I cannot comprehend the love you have for me as you allow yourself to be scourged, ridiculed, beaten and nailed to the cross. Your suffering is beyond my capacity to grasp. The magnitude of your love causes me fall before your holy cross in grief, but also in gratitude. May my turning away from my sinfulness be my gift back to you, a gift of thanks and of love.

Action: Immerse yourself in the presence of the cross today. Let the beauty of the Church’s solemn celebration of the Lord’s Passion fill you. Allow yourself to fully contemplate the love Jesus has for you, so much love that He endured the crucifixion just for you. And then give to Him in return your praise, gratitude and love.

Deacon Mark Machuga is the Director of the Office of the Diaconate for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. He serves as a deacon at Our Lady of Victory Parish in Delhi Township. He was ordained in April, 2016. He has been married to his wife Julie for 39 years, and is the father of two and grandfather of three.

April 20: At the Easter Vigil on the Holy Night of Easter

Invitation to Prayer: O truly blessed night, when things of heaven are wed to those of earth!

Reflection: St. Augustine noted that “a single tear shed at the remembrance of the Passion of Jesus is worth more than a year of fasting on bread and water.” As we wipe away our tears at the sorrow of Jesus’ Passion, Christians throughout the world are stoking new fires with which to light their Paschal candles. Easter is here, the time for tears of sadness is over!

St. Augustine is also sometimes ascribed as the author of the Exsultet, the Easter prayer proclaimed by the deacon at tonight’s Easter Vigil Mass. This prayer announces Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. In ancient typology, deacons represent angels in that they are messengers and heralds of the Good News. The women who come to the tomb in today’s Gospel find an angel in white garments, announcing that Jesus is not there. “He is risen, as He said.”

Prayer: Lord Jesus, open my heart to receive the graces available at the Easter Vigil.

Closing: If you haven’t been to your parish’s Easter Vigil in some time, or have never been, try to go this year. Enjoy the great intercession of the Exsultet for a quiet and peaceful Easterime. The graces available this night are manifold; acts of faith and expectant hope, reverence and admiration for the Easter mysteries, acts of gratitude for the charity and mercy of God. Savor the light of the Easter candle which blots out crime, restores innocence by forgiving venial sins and temporal punishments for sins. It banishes enmities, produces concord and gives joy to the sorrowful. Hear the dramatic invitation for heaven and earth to join together in joy and jubilation. This is one of the most beautiful liturgies of the year. What a great chance to support all of the new Catholics who will come into the Church tonight.

Nathan Beiersdorfer is in formation for the diaconate for St. Cecilia Parish in Oakley and is CFO of Archbishop Moeller High School. Nathan is married to Tricia and they have two terrific toddlers, Mary (3) and Jude (2).

April 21: Easter Sunday, The Resurrection of the Lord

Invitation to Prayer: Alleluia, Alleluia!

Reflection: Christ is risen! He is truly risen! Imagine the joy, the excitement, and even the shock that Peter and John had when seeing the empty tomb. When Mary Magdalene told them that the body of Jesus was missing, they rushed to the tomb as quickly as possible. John, after entering the tomb, “saw and believed.” But what did he see? He didn’t actually see Jesus rise from the dead. But he saw the burial cloths, and the cloth that had covered the head of Jesus. And, of course, he saw that the body of Jesus wasn’t there. Seeing all of this, and remembering all that Jesus had said about His rising, came together so that John believed. He believed that Jesus had overcome death and rose as He promised He would. This is the belief that is at the heart of Christianity – the Resurrection of Jesus.

We, too, are called to see and to believe. Again, we can’t physically see Jesus rising from the dead. We aren’t in the empty tomb looking at the burial cloths. But we can see the power of the Resurrection in the lives of the Apostles. We can see the evidence of the Resurrection in the lives of the saints throughout the last 2,000 years. We can see how the Resurrection of Jesus has changed us, too – the hope, the peace, the love that we have experienced. As we begin this Easter season, let us look with the eyes of faith, let us see the evidence before us, and let us believe that Christ is Risen!

Prayer: We praise you Lord Jesus Christ, Risen from the dead!

Closing: Take time today to praise the All-Powerful Lord, Who has conquered death.

Fr. Tim Ralston was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in 2010. He has served as parochial vicar for St. Charles Borromeo parish (Kettering) and the Coldwater Cluster (Coldwater). He is currently the pastor at St. Bernadette parish in Amelia.

 

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