Hello friends! Here is the next update of what our Holy Father, PBXVI, has to say to us for our journey this Lenten Season. He speaks to us about the Second Sunday of Lent on two occasions. First, PBXVI gave a wonderful homily for the Second Sunday of Lent in a parish in Rome called St John Baptist de la Salle.
Pope Benedict talks about each of the readings, helping us dive into their deeper significance and encouraging us to keep our eyes and hearts turned toward Christ's Resurrection at Easter. The last part of the homily is more pastoral advice for the parish itself, but I encourage you to read his reflections on the readings! Here is a quote to entice you the read the rest! (Read it here)"Dear brothers and sisters, from Mount Tabor, the mountain of the Transfiguration, the Lenten journey takes us to Golgotha, the hill of the supreme sacrifice of love of the one Priest of the new and eternal Covenant. That sacrifice contains the greatest power of transformation of both the human being and of history. Taking upon himself every consequence of evil and sin, Jesus rose the third day as the conqueror of death and of the Evil One. Lent prepares us to take part personally in this great mystery of faith which we shall celebrate in the Triduum of the Passion, death and Resurrection of Christ.
Let us entrust our Lenten journey and likewise that of the whole Church to the Virgin Mary. May she, who followed her Son Jesus to the Cross, help us to be faithful disciples of Christ, mature Christians, to be able to share with her in the fullness of Easter joy. Amen!"Pope Benedict also gives un a more in depth meditation on the Transfiguration, from the Gospel of Second Sunday of Lent during his appearance for the Angelus on March 4. He connects the Transfiguration to our own personal Lenten journeys, as we walk through these desert days to the One who is the Light of World. (Full text here)"After this event, therefore, he will be an inner light within them that can protect them from any assault of darkness. Even on the darkest of nights, Jesus is the lamp that never goes out. St Augustine sums up this mystery in beautiful words, he says: “what this sun is to the eyes of the flesh, that is [Christ] to the eyes of the heart” (Sermones 78, 2: PL 38, 490).
Dear brothers and sisters, we all need inner light to overcome the trials of life. This light comes from God and it is Christ who gives it to us, the One in whom the fullness of deity dwells (cf. Col 2:9). Let us climb with Jesus the mountain of prayer and, contemplating his face full of love and truth, let us allow ourselves to be filled with his light. Let us ask the Virgin Mary, our guide on the journey of faith, to help us to live out this experience in the season of Lent, finding every day a few moments for silent prayer and for listening to the Word of God."
We continue together with our Holy Father through this Lenten journey!
Rachel Elisa Gardner Perez
Alrighty, here's the second post in the series! This is the message PBXVI gave for last Sunday. Since it's pretty short, I'll paste most of it here (added emphasis is mine). And since my last post was so long, I'll keep my own comments brief!St. Peter's Square
Sunday, 26 February 2012"Dear Brothers and Sisters,On this First Sunday of Lent we meet Jesus who, after receiving Baptism from John the Baptist in the River Jordan (cf. Mk 1:9), is subjected to temptation in the wilderness (cf. Mk 1:12-13)...The wilderness referred to has various meanings. It can indicate the state of abandonment and loneliness, the “place” of human weakness, devoid of support and safety, where temptation grows stronger.
However, it can also indicate a place of refuge and shelter — as it was for the People of Israel who had escaped from slavery in Egypt — where it is possible to experience God’s presence in a special way. Jesus “was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan” (Mk 1:13). St Leo the Great comments that “The Lord wanted to suffer the attack of the tempter in order to defend us with his help and to instruct us with his example (Tractatus ...).
What can this episode teach us? As we read in the book The Imitation of Christ, “There is no man wholly free from temptations so long as he lives... but by endurance and true humility we are made stronger than all our enemies” (Liber I, C. XIII, Vatican City 1982, 37), endurance and the humility of following the Lord every day, learning not to build our lives outside him or as though he did not exist, but in him and with him, for he is the source of true life.
The temptation to remove God, to arrange things within us and in the world by ourselves, relying on our own abilities, has always been present in human history.
Jesus proclaims that “the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk 1:15), he announces that in him something new happens: God turns to the human being in an unexpected way, with a unique, tangible closeness, full of love; God is incarnate and enters the human world to take sin upon himself, to conquer evil and usher men and women into the world of God.
However, this proclamation is accompanied by the request to measure up to such a great gift. In fact Jesus adds: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1:15). It is an invitation to have faith in God and to convert all our actions and thoughts to goodness, every day. The season of Lent is a favourable moment for renewing and reinforcing our relationship with God, through daily prayer, acts of penance and works of brotherly charity.
Let us fervently beg Mary Most Holy to accompany us on our Lenten journey with her protection and to help us to impress the words of Jesus Christ in our hearts and in our lives so as to convert to him." full text here: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/angelus/2012/documents/hf_ben-xvi_ang_20120226_en.html
Let's look at that part again, "endurance and the humility of following the Lord every day, learning not to build our lives outside him or as though he did not exist, but in him and with him, for he is the source of true life" -
that is what Christ teaches us in the desert! How providential is this for that first Sunday of Lent, and even now a week later as you read this! We are in the thick of the Lenten marathon now, we've run quite a few laps and hopefully are in that steady stride where we feel like we've got this. We've passed the initial thrill and energetic starting point of Ash Wednesday, and we're even the first week and a half now. This is where we need endurance. The endurance to resist the temptation to sit and rest, to ease up on our efforts, to slack off. Or, if we missed the gunshot and never started running, it could seem like a great time to throw in the towel and say, "I'll never catch up now, so why try?" Because it's never to late to start - and never too soon to commit to going further! So the Holy Father tell us that what we need now is endurance! But humble endurance
. Not "I
can do this, I'm
tough enough, bring it on!," but, "Lord, with your daily portion of grace, I can make it. Give me strength!" A commitment of our own strength must go hand in hand with a commitment to trust in the Lord's strength - or we'll collapse long before the finish line and be easy prey to whatever temptation pulls us off course along the way. That daily asking for grace, for our daily bread, is really and truly a source of life,
of energy, of hope. Without this day to day perspective and trust in grace, these 40 days could seem like 40 years! So keep it up guys, keep running. Keep turning to God every day and asking Him for the necessary grace, and keep encouraging each other to do the same! Look out for your brothers and sisters, and cheer them on. No one can do it alone - we aren't meant to! May we grow each blessed day to be more "in him and with him" by growing in humility and honesty, letting every dusty corner of our inner lives be converted slowly, piece by piece, so that each day we are a few more laps closer to the finish line, that joyful celebration, our own resurrection from the dead in Christ, Our Lord.
Rachel Elisa Gardner Perez
Right before Lent started, a friend of mine sent me our Holy Father's Lenten Message for 2012 - to my joy PBXVI's words spoke straight to what I was experiencing and thinking as I approached the start of the holy season. I even put a quote from it on a "sticky note" on my desktop, so I see it each time I open my lap top. Today (the Second Sunday of Lent) I went searching for any new updated material, and found the translation of last Sunday's message for the First Sunday of Lent. So I thought I'd post a series this Lent as an attempt to keep y'all updated on His Holiness' messages for us throughout the season. Yes, I am starting a bit behind - but what better way to reflect on how we're all doing so far than to be assisted by what our Holy Father has been saying during these first few weeks? I will hopefully post his message for today (the Second Sunday) soon, currently only video is available and it's all in Italian!
So, here's my reflection on Pope Benedict XVI's Message for Lent 2012 - you can find the full text here (I highly recommend reading it all!): http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/lent/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20111103_lent-2012_en.html
PBXVI's central message is based in this scripture verse:“Let us be concerned for each other,
to stir a response in love and good works” (Heb 10:24)
He starts by talking about true consideration for one another, and how we should aspire this Lenten season to a greater awareness of the needs of our brothers and sisters, and indeed a greater awareness that others are our brothers and sisters. He warns about the danger of indifference toward others, saying, "We should never be incapable of “showing mercy” towards those who suffer. Our hearts should never be so wrapped up in our affairs and problems that they fail to hear the cry of the poor. Humbleness of heart and the personal experience of suffering can awaken within us a sense of compassion and empathy." He goes on to say that, "Today, in general, we are very sensitive to the idea of charity and caring about the physical and material well-being of others, but almost completely silent about our spiritual responsibility towards our brothers and sisters." This struck me as deeply true and relevant. It is fashionable and socially acceptable (especially during Lent) to be altruistic towards the more obviously less fortunate - to donate money to disaster causes and Church mission projects, to give away old clothes to shelters, etc. Altruism has even become trendy - like buying Tom's shoes! But how unfashionable and socially reprehensible is it to ask our friends about their prayer lives?; To say, hey, I haven't seen you at mass in a while, you doing okay? It isn't very common at all. But before you start thinking of images of misguided (but probably well intentioned) individuals shouting judgmental things from street corners about fire, brimstone and repentance, PBXVI goes on to say to something essential: "Christian admonishment, for its part, is never motivated by a spirit of accusation or recrimination. It is always moved by love and mercy, and springs from genuine concern for the good of the other. " Ah, there's the catch - and the truth of it. We are called not to judge others to edify ourselves in self-righteousness, we are called to love others toward virtue - that is to love them so much that your desire to encourage them to virtue overrides your desire to be politically correct and not disturb the status quo or interfere. We should want our friends to be saints, and help them get there! Of course, this "fraternal correction" should go both ways. He continues saying, "Scripture tells us that even “the upright falls seven times” (Prov 24:16); all of us are weak and imperfect (cf. 1 Jn 1:8). It is a great service, then, to help others and allow them to help us, so that we can be open to the whole truth about ourselves, improve our lives and walk more uprightly in the Lord’s ways. There will always be a need for a gaze which loves and admonishes, which knows and understands, which discerns and forgives (cf. Lk 22:61), as God has done and continues to do with each of us." Thus, as we attempt, in humbleness and with the help of the Holy Spirit, to help others grow this Lent, we must be reciprocally open to the fraternal admonition that comes to us from others! However uncomfortable all this feels at first, it will bring us closer to "the whole truth about ourselves" - which is the same thing as saying closer to purity, humility, and sanctity.
Then PBXVI focuses on the reciprocal nature of our relationship with others as the Mystical Body of Christ. "The Lord’s disciples, united with him through the Eucharist, live in a fellowship that binds them one to another as members of a single body. This means that the other is part of me, and that his or her life, his or her salvation, concern my own life and salvation. Here we touch upon a profound aspect of communion: our existence is related to that of others, for better or for worse. Both our sins and our acts of love have a social dimension." You're probably familiar with the teaching that our sins affect others - that's why in Reconciliation the priest represents the community and as such channels God's mercy that we may reconciled again to the Body of Christ. But have you thought about how our "acts of love" also have a social dimension? This has been a huge motivator for me this Lent. When I really feel weak and tempted not to stay faithful to my Lenten sacrifices and resolutions, I think of my closest friends, and how they too are struggling for virtue, and I offer my sacrifice for them that my own efforts may give them strength and lift them up. And you know, it works. And it's true. My offerings raise them up, as their continual efforts make me stronger. We're that connected, that united. Maintaining our independent free will and uniqueness, we are also intimately connected in our striving for daily holiness. How powerful is that! We all need some type of this strong, personal, human bond to make it through.
At the close of his message, one last sentence really struck home, "The spiritual masters remind us that in the life of faith those who do not advance inevitably regress." Friends, this is an UPHILL climb!!! (Haven't we noticed that in these first few weeks of Lent??? ) If we don't stirve EVERY DAY, we will inevitably slide backwards. That can sound pretty dreary and flat out exhausting - and indeed it would be - except that each and EVERY DAY we can ask for the grace sufficient for each and every day...one day at a time, always upwards, always heavenwards.
PBXVI ends with this invitation, "Dear brothers and sisters, let us accept the invitation, today as timely as ever, to aim for the “high standard of ordinary Christian living...In a world which demands of Christians a renewed witness of love and fidelity to the Lord, may all of us feel the urgent need to anticipate one another in charity, service and good works (cf. Heb 6:10). This appeal is particularly pressing in this holy season of preparation for Easter. As I offer my prayerful good wishes for a blessed and fruitful Lenten period, I entrust all of you to the intercession of Mary Ever Virgin and cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing."
So, there you have it. How are you doing so far? May our Mother Mary be with us in every step!!!!
Rachel Elisa Gardner Perez
P.S. Stay tuned for PBXVI's Message from the First Sunday of Lent! The Second Sunday still isn't translated into English, but that will follow soon too!!