February 28 – Saturday of the 1st Week in Lent

Deuteronomy 26:16-19 ●  Matthew 5:43-48

Now live like it

You’re familiar with the old written law, “Love your friend,” and its unwritten companion, “Hate your enemy.” I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best —the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up . You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.

Matthew 5:43-48

REFLECTION


What? Let our enemies bring out the best in us? Sometimes it seems Jesus is asking the impossible of us! Yet then he shows us how it can be done. He showed us how to hate the sin, but love the sinner. He gave us examples of how to live generously and graciously toward others, even people who supposedly weren’t deserving of his generosity. He does not ask us to do anything he didn’t do himself.

ACTION


Who is the “enemy” in your life whom Jesus wants you to love?

Reprinted with permission. For more information about this booklet and Bible translation, please see TheMessageCatholic.com.

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February 27 – Friday of the 1st Week in Lent

Ezekiel 18:21-28 ●  Matthew 5:20-26

Make things right

You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, “Do not murder.” I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.

This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.

Matthew 5:21-24

REFLECTION


Once again, Jesus’ words in Matthew’s gospel are challenging and convicting. Having religious sentiment isn’t enough. We have to do the hard work of reconciling ourselves to others, not just paying lip service to it. Jesus asks a lot of us, but his challenges always lead to a better life in the long run.

ACTION


What relationships in your life need to be made right? Ask God for the courage and humility to take the initiative to begin a process of reconciliation.

Reprinted with permission. For more information about this booklet and Bible translation, please see TheMessageCatholic.com.

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February 26 – Thursday of the 1st Week in Lent

Esther C:12,14-16,23-25 ●  Matthew 7:7-12

Ask for what you need

Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing.
You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?

Matthew 7:7-11

REFLECTION


Some people don’t ask God directly for what they want because they think it would be selfish. But in strong, loving human relationships, people are free to ask for what they want or need, and the other person is freed from having to guess at what it is. Here Jesus tells us God can handle our directness and our honesty, even better than the person in our life who loves us the most.

ACTION


Today take the time to ask God directly for what you need. Be bold in your asking. Then watch and wait in trust that you will get it, though it may come in a form different from what you imagine.
Are you waiting for someone in your life to do something for you? Are you asking him or her to change? Can you take the initiative and do what you want them to do for you?

Reprinted with permission. For more information about this booklet and Bible translation, please see TheMessageCatholic.com.

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February 25 – Wednesday of the 1st Week in Lent

Jonah 3:1-10 ●  Luke 11:29-32

Everyone must turn around

When the message reached the king of Nineveh, he got up off his throne, threw down his royal robes, dressed in burlap, and sat down in the dirt. “Everyone must turn around, turn back from an evil life and the violent ways that stain their hands. Who knows? Maybe God will turn around and change his mind about us, quit being angry with us and let us live!”

God saw what they had done, that they had turned away from their evil lives. He did  change his mind about them. What he said he would do to them he didn’t do.

Jonah 3:6,8b-10

REFLECTION


Although we may be tempted to despair of the direction our world is going—the growing gap between rich and poor, the breakdown of families and communities, environmental degradation—the book of Jonah reminds us that it’s never too late to repent and change our ways. What seemed irreversible was not, because nothing is impossible with God.

ACTION


What is God inviting you to get “up on your feet” to do? Pray for the strength and initiative to do it, then commit to a concrete plan to begin.

Reprinted with permission. For more information about this booklet and Bible translation, please see TheMessageCatholic.com.

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February 24 – Tuesday of the 1st Week in Lent

Isaiah 55:10-11 ●  Matthew 6:7-15

Pray very simply

The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best— as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge! You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes.

Matthew 6:7-13

REFLECTION


How many times do we say, or hear others say, “I don’t know how to pray?” Fortunately, Jesus has a response for that problem/excuse. If we come back to the simple “Our Father” we can’t go wrong. Does the creative translation above give you any insights into this prayer that is so familiar to us?

ACTION


Take a few moments to pray the Our Father with thoughtfulness and intentionality. Trust that God knows what you need, even if you can’t articulate it yourself.

Reprinted with permission. For more information about this booklet and Bible translation, please see TheMessageCatholic.com.

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February 23 – Monday of the 1st Week in Lent

Leviticus 19:1-2,11-18 ●  Matthew 25:31-46

You did it to me

Then the King will say to those on his right, “Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

“I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.”

Matthew 25:34-36,45

REFLECTION


Jesus gives us a clear, can’t-be-missed lesson on doing God’s will. Failing to care for others is a failure to care for Jesus himself. On the positive side, all we need to do to show our love for Jesus is to show it to others, especially the most needy.

ACTION


Who in my life now comes to me as Jesus in “the distressing disguise of the poor” ( Mother Teresa’s phrase)? What concrete, specific action can I do to address his or her needs?

Reprinted with permission. For more information about this booklet and Bible translation, please see TheMessageCatholic.com.

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February 22 – 1st Sunday of Lent

Genesis 9:8-15 ●  1 Peter 3:18-22 ●  Mark 1:12-15

Time's up

At once, this same Spirit pushed Jesus out into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by Satan. Wild animals were his companions, and angels took care of him.

After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee preaching the Message of God: “Time’s up! God’s kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message.”

Mark 1:12-15

REFLECTION


It is good that we worship a God who became human, who knows what it is like to experience all the human emotions we experience. Like Jesus, we, too, get pushed out of our comfort zones into the wild where we are tested. It may feel as if wild animals are threatening us, but there are angels there too.

ACTION


Call to mind a desert experience you’ve had in your life – perhaps a time of grief or great loss, depression or illness. It may be easy to identify the “wild animals” that threatened you, but can you name the angels who took care of you, even if you didn’t recognize them at the time? Thank God for them now, and consider sending them a note or giving them a phone call to thank them personally.

Reprinted with permission. For more information about this booklet and Bible translation, please see TheMessageCatholic.com.

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February 21 – Saturday After Ash Wednesday

Isaiah 58:9b-14 ●  Luke 5:27-32

Who needs a Doctor?

The Pharisees and their religion scholars came to his disciples greatly offended. “What is he doing eating and drinking with crooks and ‘sinners’?”
Jesus heard about it and spoke up, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting outsiders, not insiders—an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out.”

Luke 5:30-32

REFLECTION


Often we identify with a particular character or group of characters in the Gospel stories. Who we identify with or relate to may change over time depending on our life situations. That’s why the Bible is said to be the Living Word—it will have new meaning for us time and time again as we come back to it.

ACTION


Do you find yourself relating to the Pharisees at this point in your life—feeling indignant that Jesus’ mercy extends to those you dislike or judge unworthy? If so, pray to feel Jesus’ compassion for them. Ask God’s help in letting go of your judgments. Or do you feel like one of the sinners who has been unexpectedly invited to the party? If so, say a prayer of thanksgiving for the experience of knowing God’s mercy.

Reprinted with permission. For more information about this booklet and Bible translation, please see TheMessageCatholic.com.

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BROTHERS TAKE THE PLUNGE!

So, if you’re a Brother from Latin America and and seeking a truly “Minnesota” experience, how can you not opt to dive into a frozen lake in February?

Brothers Peter, Cristhian, Robertolino, and Miguel (with Trevor, SMU student in the center) plunge in!

Brothers Peter, Cristhian, Robertolino, and Miguel (with Trevor, SMU student in the center) plunge in!

On Saturday, February 7, approximately 60 Saint Mary’s  students, staff, and alumni braved the icy water of Lake Winona, during the sixth annual “Cardinal Plunge.” Among this hearty bunch were four Brothers from SMU: Brothers Cristhian (Colombia), Robertolino (Mexico), and Miguel (Peru), who are studying at SMU, along with Bro. Peter (DENA) a staff member.

DSC_2348

More than $5,000 was raised from the plunge and the silent auction. Proceeds will be given to Juliana Piscitiello, a 2006 Saint Mary’s alumna who was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a genetic, auto-immune disease and a chronic progressive form of arthritis which is destroying her spine. Piscitiello, former part-time faculty member at the Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts, has enjoyed ballet since the age of 3 and has assisted with dance choreography on campus. Funds will be used to assist with the expense of her ongoing therapy, much of which is needed to reduce the severity of her painful symptoms.She is the daughter of Kathy and Tony Piscitiello, AFSC, senior advancement director at Saint Mary’s.

Time for some serious hot chocolate!

Time for some serious hot chocolate!

Way to go, Bros! 

(photos courtesy of SMU)

 

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February 20 – Friday After Ash Wednesday

Isaiah 58:1-9a ●  Matthew 9:14-15

TheKind of Fast Day I'm after

The kind of fasting you do
won’t get your prayers off the ground.
Do you call that  fasting, a fast day that I, GOD , would like?
This is the kind of fast day I’m after:
to break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
free the oppressed, cancel debts.
What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
and your lives will turn around at once.

Isaiah 30:4b, 5b-8a

REFLECTION


Fasting from food or abstaining from meat is positively easy compared to the kind of fasting God requires. God wants action that offers life to others, and to us.

ACTION


What kind of fast can you enact—starting right now—that will break a chain of injustice? A fast from buying clothes made in sweatshops? A fast from pretending not to see the homeless beggars on the street corner? A fast from the technology (e.g. smart phones, iPads, YouTube, Facebook) that keep you from being available to your own family? A fast from underpaying those who work for you, whether in your business, in your home, or at a restaurant?

Reprinted with permission. For more information about this booklet and Bible translation, please see TheMessageCatholic.com.

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