Showing posts with label Lent. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lent. Show all posts

16 Mar 2018

'Sir, we wish to see Jesus.' Sunday Reflections, Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year B

Sheaves of Wheat, Van Gogh [Web Gallery of Art]

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit (John 12:24).

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel John 12:20-33 (NRSV, Anglicised Catholic Edition)

Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.

‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—“Father, save me from this hour”? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.

The readings for Year A may be used instead of those above.

Christ in Agony on the Cross, El Greco [Web Gallery of Art]
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself (John 12:32).

Sir, we wish to see Jesus. This was the request of some Greek pilgrims to Jerusalem who spoke to Philip. Jesus when told of this said to Philip and Andrew, Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Presumably, these words were conveyed to the Greeks by the two apostles or perhaps repeated to them by Jesus himself.

Continue here.

9 Mar 2018

'For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works . . .' Sunday Reflections, 4th Sunday of Lent, Year B

From The Gospel of John (2003) directed by Philip Saville
[Today's Gospel ends at 3:10]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Gospel John 3:14-21 (New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition)

Jesus said to Nicodemus:

Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.’

The readings for Year A may be used instead of those above.
Nicodemus, Unknown Flemish Master [Web Gallery of Art]

The Pharisees generally have a bad name and the adjective 'pharisaical' is defined in Merriam-Webster as marked by hypocritical censorious self-righteousness. Those words could certainly describe most of the Pharisees we meet in the gospels. But they do not apply to Nicodemus. He was patently a good man who said to Jesus when he met him at night, Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God (John 3:2). He was also with Jesus at the end helping to prepare for the burial. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds (John 19:39).

Continue here.

3 Mar 2018

'I want my life, my character, my actions to speak of me and say that I am following Jesus Christ.' Sunday Reflections, 3rd Sunday of Lent, Year B

Year B

Christ Driving the Money-changers from the Temple 
Rembrandt [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Gospel John 2:13-25 (New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition)

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’ The Jews then said to him, ‘What sign can you show us for doing this?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
When he was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.

The readings for Year A may be used instead of those above.

Bus Éireann buses [Wikipedia]

Last Sunday afternoon I took the Bus Éireann bus from Dublin Airport to St Columban's, Dalgan Park, where I'm living, a journey of about one hour and twenty minutes. As I was getting off I told the driver that I love travelling by bus because I see so many acts of kindness and humanity and that he himself was a good example of that. Almost everyone in Ireland says 'Thank you' to the driver as they get off, an act of kindness and gratitude, but I could see that the driver I spoke to was surprised and delighted at my compliment.

Continue here.

21 Feb 2018

'I just want a place at the feet of Jesus.' Sunday Reflections, 2nd Sunday of Lent, Year B'

Transfiguration, Blessed Fra Angelico [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Mark 9:2-10 (NRSV, Anglicised Catholic Edition)

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’ Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.
Assumpsit Iesus Petrum

Sebastián de Vivanco (Ávila, 1551 - Salamanca, 1622)
Música Reservata de Barcelona directed by Bruno Turner
Assumpsit Iesus Petrum, et Iacobum et Ioannem fratrem eius, et duxit eos in montem excelsum seorsum, et transfiguratus est ante eos.
Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves.
Et ecce vox de nube dicens: His est Filius meus dilectus, in quo mihi bene complauci, ipsum audite.
And from the cloud there came a voice, ‘Thisis my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’ (Mark 10: 2,7).

Clement Shahbaz Bhatti [Wikipedia]
(9 September 1968 - 2 March 2011)

In today's first reading God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son 'on a height that I will point out to you'. We can only imagine the heartbreak of Abraham being asked by God to give offer his only son by Sarah his wife, born when both of them were very old. But God wasn't looking for the life of Isaac but for Abraham to submit himself to God's will, no matter the consequences. Abraham's sacrifice of his own will made him 'our Father in faith', as the Roman Canon says, the Father of countless Jews and Christians

Continue here.

18 Feb 2018

Lent: Not Doing Too Much

Quite a bit happened this week.

We started Lent's 40-day stay with our Lord in the desert. Not literally. That's mentioned in today's Gospel: Mark 1:12-15. I've talked about deserts and Deuteronomy, penance and porridge, before. (February 11, 2018; February 26, 2017)

There's a more technical — and more useful, probably — discussion in Catechism of the Catholic Church 538-540....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

16 Feb 2018

Series on Lent pt. 2: What Do You Desire?

A Huge Oopsie

The other day, after picking my oldest up from her volleyball practice (she joined the team last week and will begin competing in games in the near future),  I let the kids play in water outside because despite being February, we had the rare 70 degree day.  They were squirting the hose, and playing and laughing.  I put Conrad down for his nap, checked my iPhone, then went outside, to find no one in the backyard.  I called for Annabel (the toddler) but she was nowhere to be found.

I looked in the front yard first, then ran upstairs and asked Molly and Frances where Annabel (and Anders and Madeleine) were.

read the rest at

'Their blood confesses Christ.' Sunday Reflections, First Sunday of Lent, Year B

The Temptation of Christ, Tintoretto [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India, Ireland, Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Mark 1:12-15 (NRSV, Anglicised Catholic Edition)

The Spirit immediately drove Jesus out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’

Ordination of Columban to the Priesthood

Please pray for the Reverend Erl Dylan J. Tabaco who will be ordained to the priesthood on Saturday 17 February in Holy Rosary Parish, Agusan, Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines, where Columbans worked for many years. May the Lord grant him many fruitful years as a Columban missionary priest.

Responsorial Psalm (NAB Lectionary, Philippines, USA)

One of my teachers in the Columban seminary in the 1960s was a saintly priest, Fr Edward McCormack. Father Ted, as we knew him, spent most of his life as a priest teaching Scripture to Columban seminarians in Ireland and the USA. But he taught our class Latin.

Continue here.

13 Feb 2018

Three Things Are Necessary ... (A Series on Lent, Part One)

Three Questions

"Three things are necessary for man's salvation," said Thomas Aquinas, "to know what he ought to believe, to know what he ought to desire, and to know what he ought to do."

In this three part series, during Lent, I am going to take apart this quote from Aquinas. In this quote, he begs the question.... actually three questions.

What do you believe?

What do you desire?

What do you do?

These are the three essential questions for faith and for salvation.  Aquinas said it: it must be true!  :0)

This year during the season of Lent, this will be the focus of my conversations. I am going to start that conversation here, with part one on my blog!

Let's Talk About Lent

And before we get into that question, I want to discuss Lent for just a minute.  I remember in years past, I heard about a girl who was going to give up creamer in her coffee for Lent. However, it was too tough for her, but she still wanted to honor God by doing some kind of sacrifice during Lent.  She decided to give up creamer in her coffee one day a week.

read the rest here

11 Feb 2018

Skydiving and Lent

Lent is fast approaching. How I see it and what I do is up to me. Ash Wednesday is next week, so I don't have much time to decide.

Christians, Catholic and otherwise, in my culture generally change what we eat for this season. I'm a Catholic, so I've got rules.

But not all that many. Mostly they're guidelines. I put a link to my territory's rules about diet under 'Fast & Abstinence' near the end of this post....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

7 Feb 2018

Lent is a Week Away! Are You Ready to Make It Fruitful?

Can you believe it? Lent is only one week away! We’ve barely left the Christmas season, and we are about to walk the journey, with Christ, to Calvary. Are you prepared to enter the Lenten season? Are you ready to make the most of it?

Things You Can Do to Make Your Lent Fruitful

  1. Prayer: Make a point to set aside a few minutes each day to pray. If you have enough time to say a full Rosary, great! But, sometimes, the day gets away from us. So, a vow to say a single Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be is a commitment I think we all could easily make. Prayer is talking with God. He wants to hear from you!
  2. Fasting: At a minimum, make the effort to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. By fasting, I mean a reduced breakfast and lunch, and a full dinner. No desserts! If you can do this on a set day of the week, once weekly during Lent, all the better! Fasting helps us to understand that without God, we are nothing. It is God who provides for us: our homes, our jobs, our food, everything!
  3. Almsgiving: Make a point to reach out to the less fortunate. Clean your closets and donate some clothes/goods to the poor. Donate your time, money and/or food to a food pantry. Volunteer for a ministry at your Church. Remember what Jesus said, “whatever you did for the least of these, my brothers, you did for Me” (Matt 25:40). Be charitable toward others.

12 Apr 2017

Forgiveness: A Lenten Message

Who Do You Have to Forgive

truth is, we all have someone to forgive(1)," writes R. Scott Hurd, in the very beginning of his life-changing book Forgiveness: The Catholic Approach ("Forgiveness").

The following is Scott's list of people we may need to forgive; the comments in the parentheses are my two cents.

1. Rude drivers (very appropriate for those of us who live in Massachusetts)
2. Spouses (thank goodness for Sacramental Grace - that is all I have to say!)
3. Friends (they can hurt or betray us, or over time may become our "frenemies")
4. Bosses (those who steal our ideas, treat us unjustly, or are just plain grumpy)
5. Bullies (even as adults we can find ourselves faced with cruel people)

But Wait, There's More!

I would add:
1. Ourselves (often the hardest person to forgive)
2. God (It is okay to admit this, He will not send down lightning to smote you for being honest.
Furthermore, let's face it: He already knows you are angry. If He created your brain, don't you think He can also read it!?)

We cannot begin the healing process if we do not first acknowledge that we need to forgive, and then identify who that person is. I have encountered people at my retreats and presentations on forgiveness who admit they really can't think of anyone they are angry with. 

Read My Response HERE ...

All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras

8 Apr 2017

You Cannot Fail at Lent

Plans are Meant to be Altered

All over social media, those still left after the Lenten Exodus, people are confessing to their inability to keep their Lenten promises.  According to Facebook and Twitter, there has been lots of coffee drunk, chocolate eaten, swears said, and prayer time skipped.  The hashtag #LentenFail started showing up just a day into the liturgical season.  The #LentFail numbers grew again after bacon bits, chicken broth and unintentional "Oh no, I totally forgot it was Lent" hamburger consumption on the first Friday of Lent.

Here is the good news. YOU Cannot Fail Lent.  It is not a test. Lent is a time of looking at our lives and trying new ways to grow closer to Christ.  Through prayer, fasting and charity, these forty days can be used to challenge our current choices and behaviors, and try on new ones.    The fasting, prayer and alms we take on for Lent, can also enhance our lives well beyond Easter ... read more for ideas on how and extra encouragement 

All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2017

7 Apr 2017

‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’ Sunday Reflections, Palm Sunday, Year A

Christ's Entry into Jerusalem,
Melozzo da Forli

The Commemoration of the Lord's Entrance into Jerusalem

Gospel Matthew 21:1-11 (NRSV,Catholic Ed., Can.)

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, “The Lord needs them.” And he will send them immediately.’ This took place to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
‘Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
‘Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’

The following Hymn to Christ the King may be sung during the procession.

Gloria, laus et honor tibi sit,
rex Christe redemptor,
cui puerile decus prompsit
Hosanna pium.
Glory and honour and praise be to you,
Christ, Kind and Redeemer
to whom young children cried out
loving Hosannas with joy.

Readings during Mass
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible)

The response for today's Responsorial Psalm is My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? ('forsaken me' in the Jerusalem Bible Lectionary), the last words of Jesus according to St Matthew, whose version of the Passion is read today. The readings carry that theme, explicitly or implicitly. The Prophet Isaiah says, I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. The church applies these words to the sufferings of Jesus. Yet there isn't total abandonment: The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.

Psalm 21 (22) is fulfilled in the Passion and Death of Jesus. St Paul in the reading from his Letter to the Philippians speaks of the self-emptying of Jesus who: though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.

The Agony in the Garden, El Greco [Web Gallery of Art]

An tAthair Pádraig Ó Crolaigh (Fr Patrick Crilly) of the Diocese of Derry, Ireland, reflects on this in his poem in Irish, An Crióst Tréigthe (The Abandoned Christ). I have added my own English translation.

Full post here.

31 Mar 2017

'Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ Sunday Reflections, Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year A

The Raising of Lazarus, Rembrandt [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible)
For the shorter form of the Gospel omit the passages [in square brackets].
Gospel John 11:1-44 [11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33b-45] (NRSV,Catholic Ed

[Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill.] So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Then after this he said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’ [The disciples said to him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?’ Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.’ After saying this, he told them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.’ Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’ Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow-disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’]

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. [Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother.] When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’

[When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, ‘The Teacher is here and is calling for you.’ And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When] Jesus saw her weeping and [the Jews who came with her also weeping, he] was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’
Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

From The Gospel of John

I think it was back in the 1980s when I was at home in Ireland on a visit that I heard a young diocesan priest being interviewed on national radio about his work as a prison chaplain. He spoke about an occasion when he spent an hour in a cell with one prisoner who was there for stealing on a large scale. The priest got no response whatever - until he was about to leave. He then looked at the young man, put his arms around him and said, 'I love you', adding the man's name.

The prisoner broke down and began to open up to the priest. Over a period of time they became friends. After he was released the young man set up a successful security agency, no doubt drawing on his 'professional skills'.
Full post here.

The Gift Of Prayer - Only Useful When Being Used

Prayer is a Gift are Meant to Be Used a Reflection by Allison Gingras part of the Walk in Her Sandals WINE Lenten Book Club series

Gifts are Meant to be Used

“What is the gift of prayer?” is the first question asked in the Walk in Her Sandals’ journal with regard to Pat’s reflection. Personally, I see prayer as part of what I’ve dubbed, “The Grace Trifecta.” This trifecta consists of one engaging in prayer, participating in the Sacraments, as well as reading and reflecting on Scripture — prayer, Sacrament and Scripture. It truly amazes me that God allows us to communicate with Him in this intimate way. What a gift that he allows us to enter into conversation with Him.

When I was a child, my mother would wrap every single item in our Christmas stocking. Opening each individual present was what I looked forward to the most about Christmas; I enjoyed it so much I continue that tradition today with my own children. This is how I have experienced prayer in my life — as many small gifts. The first prayer gift to be unwrapped was opening up a more frequent line of communication with God. This came after reading St. Paul’s words in 1Thessalonians 5:16-18, which reads .... 

All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2017 

24 Mar 2017

'One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.' Sunday Reflections. Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year A

Blind Pensioner with a Stick, Van Gogh [Web Gallery of Art]
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India

Gospel John 9:1-41 [9: 1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38] (NRSV, Anglicised Catholic Ed)

As Jesus walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. [His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’] When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbours and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, ‘Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?’ Some were saying, ‘It is he.’ Others were saying, ‘No, but it is someone like him.’ He kept saying, ‘I am the man.’

They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, ‘He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.’ Some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.’ But others said, ‘How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?’ And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, ‘What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.’ He said, ‘He is a prophet.’

Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ He answered, ‘And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.’ He said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshipped him. 

From The Gospel of John

In his homily on the Solemnity of the Annunciation in 2014 Pope Francis said, Salvation cannot be bought and sold; it is given as a gift, it is free . . . We cannot save ourselves, salvation is a totally free gift. The Pope continued: Since it cannot be bought, in order for this salvation to enter into us we need a humble heart, a docile heart, an obedient heart like Mary's. Moreover, the model on this journey of salvation is God himself, his Son, who did not count equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied himself, and was obedient unto death, even death on a cross.

Full post here.

19 Mar 2017

To ask for a drink is no big request but to ask it of me?' Sunday Reflections, Third Sunday of Lent, Year A

Christ and the Samaritan Woman, Duccio di Buoninsegna

Readings (New American Bible)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) 
For the shorter form of the Gospel omit the passages in square brackets Gospel John 4:5-42 [5:5-15, 19b-26, 39a, 40-42] (NRSV, Anglicised Catholic Ed.)  

Jesus came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
The video is taken from The Gospel of John directed by Philip Saville.
I remember reading a story about Pope John Paul I when he was still known as Albino Luciani, Patriarch of Venice. One of his priests in a rural parish was known more for being absent from his parish than for being present. Cardinal Luciani went to visit the parish - and the priest was away. So the Cardinal covered for him until the priest returned some days later. The wayward parish priest got the shock of his life when his archbishop asked him to hear his confession.

Cardinal Luciani, who later became known as 'The Smiling Pope' and was with us for only 33 days in 1978 as Bishop of Rome, didn't scold the priest. He simply asked him to do for him what only a priest can do - forgive sins in God's name in the sacrament of confession.
Pope John Paul I, 26 August 1978

In the gospel Jesus asks the woman at the well directly, Give me a drink. As she was to point out to Jesus he didn't have the wherewithal to draw water himself from the well. She did.

Full post here.

Loving Lent?

Often people think of Lent as a time to share in the suffering of Christ yet when they try to suffer for Christ, they become morose, centring more on their own sacrificial devotions than on God.
Of course, Lent IS a time to get rid of the flub in our lives but only so we are able to connect more to the heart of our Beloved. I am thankful for ALL the suffering in my life because it has brought me closer to God.
I once asked a priest what my life would have been like if I had not experienced suffering -if I had married a well-off dentist, had 1.25 kids and lived in an efficient, modern house. He put on a phoney, pious face, put his hands together in prayer, and said in a high, mocking voice, “Oh, you would be a nice Christian lady, praising the Lord.” What he meant by that amusing bit of acting was that I would be shallow, without depth and strength.
If this is the situation, I say bring on real suffering, because I want—no I need—to live in reality.

12 Mar 2017


I say "in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" a lot: mostly when I start praying. I generally make the sign of the Cross at the same time.

The sign of the Cross is a very "Catholic" gesture. It "reminds us in a physical way of the Paschal Mystery we celebrate: the death and Resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ."1

It's a prayer, a blessing, and a sacramental; and that's another topic. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1668-1670)

Dali's "Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus)" is very "Catholic," too; although not it's not like the mass-produced 19th-century stuff many associate with our faith.

I wouldn't be surprised if a half-millennium from now, some tight-collar Catholics will be upset by new art that doesn't present the Cross as an unfolded tesseract, and that's yet another topic. Topics.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

9 Mar 2017

‘This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!’ Second Sunday of Lent, Year A

Transfiguration, Fra Angelico 
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India )
Gospel Matthew 4:1-11 (NRSV)
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!’ When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Get up and do not be afraid.’ And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, ‘Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.’

Like Peter, James and John, I caught a glimpse of something of the Purity of God on a hill. Tradition tells us that Jesus was transfigured on Mount Tabor, Israel. My 'Mount Tabor' was a hotel at the top of a hill in Lourdes, France.
During Holy Week 2001 I took part in the international pilgrimage of Faith and Light to Lourdes which takes place every ten years. Faith and Light was born of a desire to help people with an intellectual disability and their families find their place within the Church and society. This was the main purpose of the organized pilgrimage to Lourdes at Easter of 1971. The founders of the movement were Jean Vanier and Marie-Hélène Mathieu. 
Jean Vanier is also the founder of L'Arche. In the video below he speaks about the beginnings of that, not as a project or movement but as a covenant with two individuals with learning disabilities and their own dreams, Raphael Simi and Philippe Seux.
Jean Vanier speaks about the early days of L'Arche and finding God in others
Full post here.

Murders, Life and Death

Mass murder at a Florida high school is in the news again. Someone has been accused of killing 17 students and staff on February 14, 2018....