2017 Daily Lenten Reflections
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2017 Daily Lenten Reflections

Saturday, March 25

Luke 1:26-38
 
The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin's name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
"Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you."
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
"Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end."
But Mary said to the angel,
"How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?"
And the angel said to her in reply,
"The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God."
Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word."
Then the angel departed from her.
 
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Reflection
 
In Luke 1:26-38, we hear the story of the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary and announcing that she will carry the child of God.  More importantly, we hear Mary’s reaction to finding out such news.  First, she is troubled.  We should not forget that although she is without sin, she is human.  It is natural for humans to worry.   But then Mary does three things.  She asks for clarification, she takes a leap of faith, and she takes action through acceptance.  She asks, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” Gabriel explains further.  She then steps into the unknown, having the faith, and not only accepting the news, but declaring, “I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.”  Mary trusts the Lord in this monumental occasion.  She believes not only what Gabriel is saying, that she will be the mother of Jesus, but trusts that God’s will is always the right course.  She does not argue with God or try to negotiate.  She believes the word of God.  And she proclaims it all with the difficult step of faith and acceptance. 
 
How can we be more like Mary, to be so worthy of God’s admiration?  Mary is often referred to as meek and humble.  Gabriel says she is “full of grace.”  Let us remember meek and humble do not have to mean weak.  Mary is obviously full of grace.  She takes this huge moment with calmness that I surely could not share.  But Mary is certainly not weak.  Mary is faced with a huge, unknown, life altering event, and she handles it with strength, with courage, and with faith.  Those are the things we can use to be more like Mary.  We can have the courage, backed by God, to face our problems.  We can have the strength to face the unknown, especially the things that scare and trouble us.  Then, we can trust that God will take care of us and surround us with love.
 
During this Lenten season, and beyond, let us strive to be more like Mary.  While we will always worry, let us embrace our faith and let our faith give us the courage and strength to face our daily problems.  Let us use that faith to know that no amount of our worrying will solve these problems.  Instead, pray that God will continue to lead us to the right path and that we have the strength and courage to accept God’s will.  Let us say, “May it be done to me according to your word.”
-Julie Gilmore
Technical Services Librarian

Friday, March 2

Hosea 14:2-10
 
Thus says the LORD:
Return, O Israel, to the LORD, your God;
you have collapsed through your guilt.
Take with you words,
and return to the LORD;
Say to him, "Forgive all iniquity,
and receive what is good, that we may render
as offerings the bullocks from our stalls.
Assyria will not save us,
nor shall we have horses to mount;
We shall say no more, 'Our god,'
to the work of our hands;
for in you the orphan finds compassion."

I will heal their defection, says the LORD,
I will love them freely;
for my wrath is turned away from them.
I will be like the dew for Israel:
he shall blossom like the lily;
He shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar,
and put forth his shoots.
His splendor shall be like the olive tree
and his fragrance like the Lebanon cedar.
Again they shall dwell in his shade
and raise grain;
They shall blossom like the vine,
and his fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

Ephraim! What more has he to do with idols?
I have humbled him, but I will prosper him.
"I am like a verdant cypress tree"– 
Because of me you bear fruit!

Let him who is wise understand these things;
let him who is prudent know them.
Straight are the paths of the LORD,
in them the just walk,
but sinners stumble in them.
 
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Reflection
 
Every day for the last five years, I have taken the same path to work – a right out of the driveway; down the street; a right onto the path by the baseball diamond; straight past the entrance to the Nate; then, I have to make a decision.  Left takes me on a path to the Central lot.  Straight ahead leads me across the Brothers Bridge. Right takes me past Stritch and the LLC.  My destination is, as always, the Student Life Office in Rozier.  Ultimately, all three of my choices will lead me to my destination; yet, circumstances may make one path more appealing on a given day than another.
 
In today’s reading, God is calling the Israelites to return home – noting the path they chose was riddled with roadblocks and dead ends.  As with each of us, God offers us the freedom to make our own choices – to travel our own path.  He never promises the journey will be easy or the most direct; but, with Christ, we always have an immediate “detour” available.  God’s “detour” bestows unconditional: love, forgiveness, protection, compassion, reconciliation, and rebirth.  When we truly seek to engage with Christ, all obstructions in our path are removed and we are able to travel on our journey, humbled in our relationships with others. 
 
As one of my favorite translations of scripture – The Message by Eugene Peterson - reminds us in Jeremiah 29:13 
  
When you come looking for me, you'll find me. "Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed.  I'll turn things around for you. I'll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you”—"I’ll bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it”
 
During our Lenten journey, may we not stumble as we seek the will of Christ for our lives – returning to the “straight paths” offered to us by God’s many “detours”. 
 
-Wilson Phillips
Student Life

Wednesday, March 22

Deuteronomy 4:1,5-9
 
Moses spoke to the people and said:
"Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees
which I am teaching you to observe,
that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land
which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you.
Therefore, I teach you the statutes and decrees
as the LORD, my God, has commanded me,
that you may observe them in the land you are entering to occupy.
Observe them carefully,
for thus will you give evidence
of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations,
who will hear of all these statutes and say,
'This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.'
For what great nation is there
that has gods so close to it as the LORD, our God, is to us
whenever we call upon him?
Or what great nation has statutes and decrees
that are as just as this whole law
which I am setting before you today?

"However, take care and be earnestly on your guard
not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen,
nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live,
but teach them to your children and to your children's children."
 
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Reflection
 
Now, Israel hear the statues and decrees which I am teaching you to observe.  Observe them carefully, for thus you will give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations, who will hear of all these statutes and say, “This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people. (Deuteronomy 4:1, 6)
 
Lent is a perfect time to examine ourselves on how we are keeping the Commandments.  God has given us these rules and regulation to follow, to become wise and understanding.  We may look on the Commandment as relatively unimportant except for the ones that carry the title of “mortal”.  But how are we doing on the relatively “minor” rules and regulations?  If we are not careful we might find ourselves in a mental habit of “deleting” less serious sins to our “trash can”.  You might not see any harm in this, but take time to reflect.  If we constantly try to excuse and disregard minor (venial) sins, will we have enough left in our tank to fight off the same attitude when a more serious situation presents itself?
 
So, let’s revisit the Commandments during this penitential season of Lent.  We need forgiveness of our venial sins just as much as for mortal sins.  This is a perfect time to go to Confession (the sacrament of reconciliation), and a good time to look at confession as a candidate for a Lenten resolution that may extend to the whole year.
 
-Brother Ignatius Brown, FSC

Tuesday, March 21

Daniel 3:25, 34-43
 
Azariah stood up in the fire and prayed aloud:

"For your name's sake, O Lord, do not deliver us up forever,
or make void your covenant.
Do not take away your mercy from us,
for the sake of Abraham, your beloved,
Isaac your servant, and Israel your holy one,
To whom you promised to multiply their offspring
like the stars of heaven,
or the sand on the shore of the sea.
For we are reduced, O Lord, beyond any other nation,
brought low everywhere in the world this day
because of our sins.
We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader,
no burnt offering, sacrifice, oblation, or incense,
no place to offer first fruits, to find favor with you.
But with contrite heart and humble spirit
let us be received;
As though it were burnt offerings of rams and bullocks,
or thousands of fat lambs,
So let our sacrifice be in your presence today
as we follow you unreservedly;
for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame.
And now we follow you with our whole heart,
we fear you and we pray to you.
Do not let us be put to shame,
but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy.
Deliver us by your wonders,
and bring glory to your name, O Lord."
 
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Reflection
 
Have you ever felt devastated by the weight of your sin?  Brothers and sisters, I know I have.  When I learn about the sheer glory of our God who is not only all- knowing, but also all-powerful AND all-good, I sometimes find myself feeling like Azariah in today’s first reading.  The remedy to this feeling is more simple than we make it:  Grace.
 
When we receive grace, the Holy Spirit lives in us.  With grace, we have the power to live free, joyful, and sin-free lives in the presence of God.  We can more easily see His work in the simple moments every day.  We have the strength and courage to live as we are called: offering our own struggles and hardships, as Christ did, to loving service.  Grace wipes away the shame of our sins and allows us to give everything we have to God. 
 
Throughout this lenten season I am reminded that my broken and sinful condition is not an excuse to hide from God, but rather a call to grow closer.  Although my heart may feel like it lies in pieces, I shouldn’t be giving Him one piece at a time.  He wants more than anything to love us, to know us, and to be close to us. 
 
How do we abandon ourselves for something so beyond the realm of our understanding?
All that we need is to ask for help, giving our own selves over as a whole-hearted sacrifice.  We can do this through simple prayers, sincere conversations with God, and genuine repentance for our mistakes.  Azariah’s plea from the depths of a fiery furnace, “may the contrite soul, the humbled spirit, be acceptable to you,” is just as true today as when it was written around 2,225 years ago.  Jesus Christ is the same today as he was yesterday, last week, or last century.
 
So as we continue imperfectly on our own faith journeys, we find hope that, despite our many flaws, God’s love for us remains unchanging and is renewed daily.  I’m far from where I hope to be, but by working to align my heart to God’s will in every moment, someday the rest of me will join. 
 
Lord, you can have it all. 
-Carlee Darnell
Religion and Philosophy, 2019
 

Monday, March 20

 
Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24
 
Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
"Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins."
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.
 
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Reflection
 
Each Ash Wednesday we are reminded of our humble beginnings. Though Jesus is Lord, He too began in the humblest of circumstances and continued to lead a quiet life until the start of His ministry. Even then, He lived life as an itinerate teacher and died a pauper with no money for His own tomb.
 
Since March 20th celebrates the Solemnity of St. Joseph, it seems appropriate to consider another humble man; this one handpicked by God to protect and provide for the child Jesus. From what little we know of Joseph, he was a carpenter and a man of faith who was a devout Jew, honoring Jewish traditions. In fact, Matthew says that he was a “righteous man”.
 
Much is said of the Virgin Mary’s unassuming acceptance of the incarnation of Jesus within her womb but Joseph, too, was asked to do what many other men would not consider. He was asked to marry and take a pregnant young woman into His home. What an awesome responsibility he agreed to when he chose to believe the words of an angel who appeared one night in a dream. The Lord knew what he was doing when He chose Joseph for this task, since this simple carpenter personified the very best of what husbands and fathers can be. Joseph not only provided for His family in material ways but was tasked with mentoring the Son of God. Surely, Jesus would have witnessed a wise teacher who demonstrated kindness, honesty and humility.
 
It seems a shame that we know so little about the life of St. Joseph. What did others in his community think about him? What was the nature of the relationship that he had with the Virgin Mary? Who were his mentors? What was his prayer life like?
 
There would be so many things we could learn from this gentle man.
 
-Mary Ogilvie
Professor, Biology

 


Sunday, March 19

Romans 5:1-2, 5-8
 
Brothers and sisters:
Since we have been justified by faith, 
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 
through whom we have gained access by faith 
to this grace in which we stand, 
and we boast in hope of the glory of God.

And hope does not disappoint, 
because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts 
through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
For Christ, while we were still helpless, 
died at the appointed time for the ungodly.
Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, 
though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die.
But God proves his love for us
in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
 
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Reflection
 
“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”
 
-The Dalai Lama
 
"Dear brothers and sisters, let us be enveloped by the mercy of God; let us trust in his patience, which always gives us more time. Let us find the courage to return to his house, to dwell in his loving wounds, allowing ourselves be loved by him and to encounter his mercy in the sacraments. We will feel his wonderful tenderness, we will feel his embrace, and we too will become more capable of mercy, patience, forgiveness and love.”

-Pope Francis
 
"In this season of Lent this passage reminds us that Jesus died for our sins and is present in our everyday life.  With this sacrifice and in trying to keep our relationship with him strong.  We should remember in this time of Lent to take a moment and visit the confessional.  Because to many of us Catholics, confession is a means to an end that allows us to clean up our soul in order to receive communion.  But Pope Francis tells us “it is much more than going to the dry cleaners,” it’s “an encounter with Jesus who waits for us as we are.” Confession calls us to repentance and conversion.  It calls us to do a complete about-face in the way we live: to turn our hearts back to God and come out of the cave into the light and warmth of his love." (Flynn, 2013)
 
If you are looking for a great book on Confession during this season of lent, check out 7 Secrets of Confession by Vinny Flynn.
-Ray Karasek
Director of Business Services

Saturday, March 18

Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
 
Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
"This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."
So to them Jesus addressed this parable.
"A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
'Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.'
So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
'How many of my father's hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
"Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers."'
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.'
But his father ordered his servants,
'Quickly, bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.'
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
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.
He said to his father in reply,
'Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.
But when your son returns
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.'
He said to him,
'My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.'"
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Reflection
 
Again, Jesus shares with us a parable—the prodigal son.  In a nutshell, we are presented with a father who has two sons.  The younger son demanded his inheritance early, left town, and squandered it all away.  The older son remained at home with his father where he labors in the field.  When the younger son hit rock bottom, he journeyed home to his father to seek aide.  To the dismay of the older son, the father welcomes his younger son with open arms and without grievances.
 
During this Lenten season I find it easiest to identify with the prodigal son.  This is a time that I critically look at my relationship with God and take on a spiritual practice to bring me home to the father.  Though it may be easier to identify with the prodigal son—a sinner seeking forgiveness upon his return—how do I (we) identify or dare I say measure up to the father?
 
The father in this parable is merciful and in a radical way!  First, the love he pours out for his son by throwing a lavish celebration is irrational. He is not angry.  He has no ill words.  He only has mercy and the desire to celebrate his son’s return. Second, he disregards public opinion. He orders a celebration despite what others think of his younger son.  Third, he doesn’t need to hear a reason or an excuse on why his son has been so irresponsible.  Instead he gives his mercy and love freely to his younger son who has safely returned home. 
  
During the remainder of this journey towards Easter, may we strive to become the character of the father and a people of mercy.
 
-Julia Kueter
Lasallian Scholar, Campus Ministry

Friday, March 17

Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46
 
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: 
"Hear another parable.
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard,
put a hedge around it,
dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.
When vintage time drew near,
he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,
another they killed, and a third they stoned.
Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,
but they treated them in the same way.
Finally, he sent his son to them,
thinking, 'They will respect my son.'
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,
'This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.'
They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?"
They answered him,
"He will put those wretched men to a wretched death
and lease his vineyard to other tenants
who will give him the produce at the proper times."
Jesus said to them, "Did you never read in the Scriptures:

The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?

Therefore, I say to you,
the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit."
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables,
they knew that he was speaking about them.
And although they were attempting to arrest him,
they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet.
 
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Reflection
 
In this parable the landowner planted a vineyard, rented it to some tenants, and then went away for a long time. At harvest time, the landowner sent a servant to collect his portion of the harvest and the servant was driven away empty-handed. Again, the landowner sent another servant to collect and this servant was beaten, ‘treated shamefully’ and sent away empty handed. A third time the landowner sent a servant. Scripture says he was ‘wounded’ and sent away empty handed. At the last, the landowner decided to send his own son, which he loved thinking that surely they would treat his son with respect and return what was due!  But the tenants conspired among themselves and decided to kill the heir so that they might inherit the vineyard. So they slew the landowner’s son.
 
Jesus leaves the Jewish leaders with a question – What then will the landowner do?
 
We may already know the meaning of this parable. God sent teachers and prophets to the Children of Israel. Some were beaten, some were treated shamefully, and some were killed. Eventually, even the Son of God was killed by the very ones he came to save. So what did God (the landowner) do? He gave the vineyard to others. We all understand that the message of grace was given to the Gentiles after its ultimate rejection by the leaders of Israel.  But we should make this more personal than just a story about the rejection of Jesus by closed minded leaders of long ago.
 
When you think about the tenants beating the servant of the landowner, do you see yourself raising your fist? When the servant was treated shamefully, do you hear the slur coming from your mouth? When the servant was wounded, do you see the whip in your hand? When the Son came and Pilate asked the question “So then, do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” do you hear yourself shouting “No! Not this Man, we want Barabbas!”?
 
It is only when we see our fist raised in defiance, only when we hear our own voice among the scoffers that we truly begin to realize the depths of our sin and desperate condition. It is only when we realize that WE are the tenant farmers in the parable and WE have treated God’s servants shamefully in the person of those we interact with daily – family, students, strangers – that we see ourselves as we truly are – sinners in need of a Savior!
-Teri Douglas
Coordinator of Admissions Operations

Thursday, March 16

Jeremiah 17:5-10
 
Thus says the LORD:
Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings,
who seeks his strength in flesh,
whose heart turns away from the LORD.
He is like a barren bush in the desert
that enjoys no change of season,
But stands in a lava waste,
a salt and empty earth.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose hope is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted beside the waters
that stretches out its roots to the stream:
It fears not the heat when it comes,
its leaves stay green;
In the year of drought it shows no distress,
but still bears fruit.
More tortuous than all else is the human heart,
beyond remedy; who can understand it?
I, the LORD, alone probe the mind
and test the heart,
To reward everyone according to his ways,
according to the merit of his deeds.
 
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Reflection
 
In this new age we are often fed various forms of information through various modes of communication.  I know that many of us can agree that we often “fact check” our information to find out how true it really is.  The prophet Jeremiah who God spoke to often reminds us to put our trust in him over humans.  From the beginning, Jeremiah was set apart to be a prophet (Jeremiah 1:4-9.)  Just like Jeremiah, we too were set apart, and given an assignment by God.  It is Important that we work intentional towards fulfilling our purpose and putting our trust in God just as Jeremiah teaches in Jeremiah 17:5 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who reply on human strength and turn their hears away from the Lord’” (aren’t you glad you don’t have to fact check that?)
 
In comparison to our omnipotent Heavenly Father, human strength is feeble.  “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence” (Jeremiah 17: 7). These are the words from God himself.  Trust in the Lord, make the Lord your hope and confidence today and watch God work in you just as he did in Jeremiah.
 
As students, and even as believers we sometimes forget what God’s word says and we get stressed out about our next steps in life forgetting that God had our lives planned before we were even born.  During this Lenten season, rest assured in God’s word.  Follow God, and continue to do as he advises even if you are treated like Jeremiah.  Trust God today.
 
-Taylor Flake
History, 2017 Lasallian Fellow 

Wednesday, March 15

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Reflection
 
CBU's Unexplored Curriculum
 
All the classes that we take are designed, through teaching and learning moments to give us what we really need to know about the topic at hand, and attempt to give us the same feel for the subject that our teachers possess. This is a self-contained and packaged process through which teachers make us graduation ready.

But are we really aware of all the other learning moments to which we are exposed to each day, but which may be going unnoticed by many of us? As we walk from building to building or from classroom to residence hall with eyes cast down and ears glued to cell phones, we may be totally blind and deaf to what our campus is trying to communicate to us.

Have we really taken a serious look at the extensive art displays in the library? Or do we know the story of the statuary - religious, Lasallian, or historic - that graces our campus? Or are we aware of the significance of two unlocked chapels in our midst? Or have we noticed the beauty of our courtyards? Or have we ever listened to the mocking birds in the bushes near our vaulted walkways? Or do we stop and chat with a passerby who, like ourselves, may appreciate a warming smile.  This campus culture is meant to round out our CBU education and to make each of us a more refined, alert, understanding and caring student.

Lent tells us to wake up, to live life to the fullest, but at a deeper level.  Lets begin today to observe the beauty that surrounds us and to enjoy our campus walking in inquisitive reflection.
 
-Brother Terence McLaughlin, FSC

Monday, March 13

Daniel 9:4-10
 
"Lord, great and awesome God,
you who keep your merciful covenant toward those who love you
and observe your commandments!
We have sinned, been wicked and done evil;
we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws.
We have not obeyed your servants the prophets,
who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes,
our fathers, and all the people of the land.
Justice, O Lord, is on your side;
we are shamefaced even to this day:
we, the men of Judah, the residents of Jerusalem,
and all Israel, near and far,
in all the countries to which you have scattered them
because of their treachery toward you.
O LORD, we are shamefaced, like our kings, our princes, and our fathers,
for having sinned against you.
But yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness!
Yet we rebelled against you
and paid no heed to your command, O LORD, our God,
to live by the law you gave us through your servants the prophets."
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
 
Reflection
 
We might think we live a good life – we haven’t rebelled against God as Daniel and the people of Israel did. But we must recognize our own ways of turning against God.  Rebellion against the Lord can take many forms – a lack of daily prayer and thanksgiving, turning our face away from the pan-handler on the corner, petty thoughts about others, neglect of our daily duties and many others.
 
First, we should search our hearts and confess where we have failed.  Our goal should be to always keep our face turned towards God. Next, we can proclaim out trust in God’s mercy and love as well.  God is always ready to forgive and has not turned his back on us.  As Daniel said “Great and awesome God, you who keeps covenant and merciful love with those who love him…”
 
-Katie Sauser
Associate Professor, Biology

Saturday, March 11

Matthew 5:43-48
 
Jesus said to his disciples:
"You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies,
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers and sisters only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Reflection
 
Oh, Jesus. Here he goes again, making things difficult by intensifying the commandments. Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Be perfect. Really? Our first instinct might be to protest that this is an impossible standard, that he is asking too much. This lets us off the hook pretty easily.

Our second response might be to deny self-righteously that we have any enemies. I see this a lot when teaching the Buddhist metta (loving-kindness) meditation to students. It goes like this: first picture yourself and recite
 
May you be filled with lovingkindness.
May you be free from all harm.
May you be healthy.
May you be happy and at peace.
 
Then extend these good wishes to your loved ones, to people who are unknown or indifferent to you, and finally to your enemies. But none of my students ever has enemies. It’s a slightly old-fashioned idea, isn’t it, reminiscent of challenging someone to a duel. Not having enemies also lets us off the hook from listening to Jesus.

Our third response, and where I too often find myself, is to judge other people’s hatred of their enemies. Look at all those so-called Christians who hate immigrants and Muslims, queer folk, feminists and tree-huggers. Why don’t they read Jesus’ words? Why do they insist on hating people who are different from them? Don’t they know they are supposed to love their enemies? Applying these standards to hypocritical others also lets us off the hook fairly easily.

But what if those words are meant for me, and my enemies are the people I oppose politically. What if, in fact, I’m supposed to love those Islamophobes and homophobes and misogynists and racists. Those people who want to take away health care and voting rights. People who care little for the fate of our planet and even less for the poor. Dear God, what if I have to love them?

Here’s where I need some help, and so I turn to two of my spiritual teachers: Martin Luther King, Jr., and Sojourner Truth. In Strength To Love, King interprets these verses from Matthew. How, he asks, is it possible to love our enemies? We first show love through forgiveness, which is the only path to reconciliation. Second, we love by not reducing the enemy to the evil he has done: “We recognize that his hate grows out of fear, pride, ignorance, prejudice, and misunderstanding, but in spite of this, we know God’s image is ineffably etched in his being.” Looking for the good in even the worst among us means we believe that “they are not beyond the reach of God’s redemptive love.” Third, we love by resisting the temptation to humiliate the enemy when given the opportunity. Mercy can “release those vast reservoirs of goodwill which have been blocked by impenetrable walls of hate.”

King is clear that this way of loving is not passive, defeatist, affectionate, or sentimental. You are not expected to like someone who is actively doing you harm. Nor are you expected to cease your efforts to resist your enemy. Righteous labors cannot be abandoned, and noncooperation with evil is a moral obligation. But love of enemy is also a moral obligation, for the following well-known reasons given by King: First, because “darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Second, because hate not only damages its victims, but it also distorts the person who hates. No effective social movement can afford the self-inflicted damage of hatred. Third, because only love has the power to transform an enemy into a friend. This sounds trite, but King wisely favors getting rid of enmity over the dangerous instinct to rid the world of enemies. The final reason why we are asked to love our enemies is the one suggested by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount: to be in relationship with God. The only way to God is through love of our neighbor-enemies. This love is the heart of the philosophy of non-violent social change, and it is the only way to create what King calls “the beloved community.”

This commandment may still seem too hard to live out. But we have a good example in the 19th century preacher, abolitionist, and suffragist Sojourner Truth. She describes a profound religious experience in which she found Jesus and perceived the presence of God in the world around her. At that moment, creative, redemptive love flowed through her:
“An’ I begun to feel such a love in my soul as I never felt before, -- love to all creatures. An’ then, all of a sudden, it stopped, an’ I said, ‘Dar’s de white folks, that have abused you an’ beat you an’ abused your people, -- think o’ them!’ But then there came another rush of love through my soul, an’ I cried out loud, -- ‘Lord, Lord, I can love even de white folks!’
Her love was neither passive nor sentimental. It drove her to continue to fight for human rights and to “shake every place” she travelled to speak. If Sojourner Truth, a woman whose labor was taken from her, whose reproductive power was exploited, whose children were sold away from her, could love white people with the power of God’s love, then surely there’s hope for me.
 
Sources:
 
Olive Gilbert, Sojourner Truth: Narrative and Book of Life (1850 and 1875; reprint, Chicago: Johnson, 1970).
 
Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love (1963; Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2010).
 
Sojourner Truth, “When Woman Gets Her Rights Man Will be Right” (1867), in Words of Fire: An Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought, ed. Beverly Guy-Sheftall (New York: The New Press, 1995).
 
Emily Holmes
Associate Professor, Religion and Philosophy
 

Friday, March 10

Ezekiel 18: 21-28
 
Thus says the Lord GOD:
If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed,
if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.
None of the crimes he committed shall be remembered against him;
he shall live because of the virtue he has practiced.
Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked?
says the Lord GOD.
Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way
that he may live?

And if the virtuous man turns from the path of virtue to do evil,
the same kind of abominable things that the wicked man does,
can he do this and still live?
None of his virtuous deeds shall be remembered,
because he has broken faith and committed sin;
because of this, he shall die.
You say, "The LORD's way is not fair!"
Hear now, house of Israel:
Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?
When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies,
it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.
But if the wicked, turning from the wickedness he has committed,
does what is right and just,
he shall preserve his life;
since he has turned away from all the sins that he committed,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Reflection
 
A I reflect on this reading, I am reminded of a time in my life when I was blessed with an opportunity to be a part of a core group of 50 individuals to launch a new church in Memphis.  As we canvased the neighborhood informing individuals of the ministry and extending invitations for them to attend the first service, it was disheartening to hear so many stories of Christians and non-Christians who thought their past transgressions were so bad that God would never forgive them. As a result, they sentenced themselves with a life of hopelessness and despair.
 
It was a joy and blessing to share with them the unconditional love and grace of God and how he sent his son Jesus into the world to save the world, not to condemn the world. The word says: God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
 
As we continue this journey toward Easter, lets us remember that God is a loving God and that there is nothing we can do in this life that does not warrant his forgiveness. If we truly believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that in Him we were made righteous, we must confess our sins as a means of cleansing, and have faith that it has been done.  It is through this faith that we are free from the shackles of guilt and condemnation.   
 
-Karen Conway Barnett
Dean of Students, Director of Disability Services

Thursday March 9

Matthew 7:7-12
           
Jesus said to his disciples:
"Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Which one of you would hand his son a stone
when he asked for a loaf of bread,
or a snake when he asked for a fish?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your heavenly Father give good things
to those who ask him.

"Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.
This is the law and the prophets."
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Reflection

“For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds” (Matthew 7: 8).
 
One of the main themes of this passage is that the Lord always answers prayers, a fundamental idea of Christianity. Although easily understood, many believers and nonbelievers struggle to see how God answers prayers—when the hopes and wishes they pray about never come true, or a horrific tragedy happens in the world, their country, their city, or their family. Especially during the season of Lent, it’s important to remember and remain firm in the belief that God does truly always answer prayers. The response may not always appear evident, and it often doesn’t happen directly or as we would like the prayer to be answered. When these moments occur and we feel God did not listen to our pleas or respond to our requests, we often feel alone, as our faith can begin to slip; we no longer feel important; we no longer feel we can fully rely on God when it doesn’t seem He is listening. This passage reminds us that He is always there for us whether we know we need Him or not, and He will consistently answer our prayers. The results may appear skewed or nonexistent in our world but He has a plan for us, and He knows what the answers to our prayers need to be.
 
As much as God would like to continually fulfill all of our prayer requests, He has a bigger plan for us that we cannot see. He may not always provide the answer we want to hear or the result we want to see, but he will provide a glimpse at His vision of the path He has set for us. This can be a tough idea to grasp, as it can make the Lord seem harsh and uncaring, but it’s quite the opposite. He cares for us so much that He already has a plan for each of our lives; how lucky we are to have a God who loves us so much that He provides many blessings in our lives and still listens to us and answers our prayers! Later in the passage, we see how sinners and people we may view as rude, or as the passage says “wicked,” still respond to the requests of others. Even if we, the sinners, and the “wicked” can still fulfill wishes, imagine how much more responsive, caring, and thoughtful God is towards listening to us and answering our prayers. This passage also relates to trust, mainly our trust in God. We need to continually remind ourselves to place full trust in Him, for He knows our needs and desires better than we know them ourselves.  He knows what we require in our lives and He provides us with these necessities in order to fulfill our lives as Christians; He has given us everything we need to get to Heaven. The passage also mentions seeking and finding, meaning that when we seek God, we can always find Him. As we frequently say here at CBU, “Let us remember that we are in the Holy Presence of God”; seek Him and He is always there whether we recognize His presence or not.
 
The last section of the passage states the Golden Rule. Everyone knows what the Golden Rule is and what it means in everyday life but I find it interesting that it follows immediately after the passage on answering prayers. Superficially, we can relate the Golden Rule to the passage by recollecting upon the last couple of times someone has asked for assistance with something. Depending on who the person is and the current situation, it can be easy to say no and continue about your day. Next time someone asks for a favor, no matter how small and no matter the person, I urge you to consider how you would feel if the roles were reversed and then respond accordingly; “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7: 12).
Hannah Schultz
Mathematics, 2018

Wednesday, March 8

Luke 11:29-32
 
While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them,
"This generation is an evil generation;
it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it,
except the sign of Jonah.
Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites,
so will the Son of Man be to this generation.
At the judgment
the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation
and she will condemn them,
because she came from the ends of the earth
to hear the wisdom of Solomon,
and there is something greater than Solomon here.
At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation
and condemn it,
because at the preaching of Jonah they repented,
and there is something greater than Jonah here."
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
 
Reflection
 
Jesus is telling us, in this passage, that men and women are seeking signs that will give them peace. Unfortunately, the signs they seek are not from God. This implies that many of us want so badly to feel like we are doing right that we pray for a sign to reaffirm our thoughts. We pray for the wrong “peace”.
 
Only true peace and true “signs” can come from the Father. While there are few among us, we must rise up together, men and women, and spread the word to this generation. This is prevalent more than ever. The world we live in is evil, as Jesus told us in this passage, now more than ever we must cling to Jesus and his holy name that he will give us the strength and the courage to stand together so that he may grace us with is ever lasting mercy.
 
The peace and signs we seek are right there in front of us, all we have to do is trust in the Lord and be honest with him about what it is we seek. Be still, be a generation of courage and know that He is Lord.
Chad Lassiter
"The Commissioner", Recreation and Student Engagement Coordinator

Tuesday, March 7

Matthew 6:7-15
 
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans,
for they think they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them,
for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
 
This, then, is how you should pray:
‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
 
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others their sins,
your Father will not forgive your sins.”
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Reflection
 
The sentences that really stick out to me in this passage are the last two sentences. Forgiving ALL the people that have wronged us is an incredibly high call.
 
Why is it that if we can’t forgive, then our Father will not forgive us? If you consider only the last sentence, this passage can make it seem like God’s forgiveness for us is dependent on me and you to find it in ourselves to forgive others. This sounds exhausting, and impossible. But if you look at this passage as is relates to the redemptive story throughout the Bible, it gives this command a new window to see it through as it relates to the whole story.
 
A couple of sentences before, Jesus says, “And forgive our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors.” I have found in my own life, it is IMPOSSIBLE for me to forgive others when I have not surrendered all of my sins, my shame, and my burdens to Jesus Christ. That my power to forgive comes only from the Holy Spirit working in my life because I have been able to rest in the complete forgiveness that Jesus has and continues to offer me.
 
One of my favorite passages in the bible is Titus 3:3-8. It talks about how Jesus saved us, not according to anything you and I have done, but according to Jesus’ love for mankind, and according to his mercy for you and me. To be free from bitterness, your souls must rest in this: “Jesus Christ has lavished forgiveness on ME”. It is only then that we can freely forgive and freely love. If you are struggling with holding on to things others have done against you, or things you have done that you are ashamed of, I would encourage you to step into Jesus’ forgiveness today.
 
-Dallas Shepard
Mechanical Engineering, 2017

Monday, March 6

Matthew 25:31-46
 
Jesus said to his disciples:
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him. 
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
'Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.'
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you? 
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'
And the king will say to them in reply,
'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Then he will say to those on his left,
'Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.'
Then they will answer and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?'
He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.'
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Reflection
 
Jesus tells us exactly how to be on His right.  Individuals and organizations on the CBU campus respond to this mandate in many ways.  We support the Food Bank, have clothing, food, and book drives, make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on Wednesdays, etc.   Joining with friends and colleagues makes them easier to perform. 
 
Many of these tasks are directed to the other – those not part of our daily encounters.   How might they relate, in a broader sense, to family, friends, colleagues, and classmates at CBU?  There is need all around us.  There is thirst for inclusion, affirmation, and acceptance.  We are naked when we expose our feelings, history, or stances on issues not knowing if they will be received with respect or ridicule.  We are ill when we feel burdened to the point that we don’t think we have the energy to fulfill our duties or other’s needs.   We hunger for assurance and accompaniment.   Feeling isolated can be a prison.  Feeling totally lost to the point that succeeding in a course seems impossible can be a prison.   Perhaps behavior caused a rift in relationships.  Perhaps the inability to do an assignment was due to neglect earlier in the semester.  We are still captive when the dilemma is of our making. Not everyone in prison is innocent. 
 
Fortunately there is generosity, joy, respect, and support on campus.  We all want to be on Jesus’ right.  Lord, have mercy for the times that we behave like those on the left.  How do we meet unknown needs?  As I write this St. Teresa of Kolkata comes to mind with her saying, “We shall never know how much good a smile can do.”  Smiling isn’t always easy for me, but perhaps it is a start.  May this Lent be a time when we receive the graces of awareness and response to those close to us. 
 
-Cathy Grilli
Professor, Mathematics
 

First Sunday of Lent, March 5

Mathew 4:1-11 (NLV)
 
4 Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit to a desert.
There He was tempted by the devil.
2 Jesus went without food for forty days and forty nights.
After that He was hungry.
3 The devil came tempting Him and said,
 “If You are the Son of God,
tell these stones to be made into bread.”
4 But Jesus said,
“It is written,
‘Man is not to live on bread only.
Man is to live by every word that God speaks.’” 
5 Then the devil took Jesus up to Jerusalem, the holy city.
 He had Jesus stand on the highest part of the house of God.
 6 The devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down.
 It is written,
‘He has told His angels to look after You.
 In their hands they will hold You up.
 Then Your foot will not hit against a stone.’”
 7 Jesus said to the devil,
 “It is written also,
‘You must not tempt the Lord your God.’” 
8 Again the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain.
He had Jesus look at all the nations of the world to see how great they were.
9 He said to Jesus, “I will give You all these nations
if You will get down at my feet and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to the devil,
“Get away, Satan.
It is written,
‘You must worship the Lord your God.
 You must obey Him only.’”
11 Then the devil went away from Jesus.
Angels came and cared for Him.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Reflection
 
This scripture points out the many temptations that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ had to overcome in the face of adversity.  As a member of his flock I often reflect on this passage as a tool to help me recognize that I am not above temptation, and that I can reject impure intentions.  Life as we know it is filled with challenges, and obstacles that oftentimes can become unbearable.  Even in the midst of adversity, our savior denied food, exhibiting self-praise, and an unforeseen kingdom all to prove that he is greater than the forces that sought to distract him from his goal. As children of God we are tempted in the same way that Jesus was.  Jesus fasted for 40 days and was tempted with turning stones to bread.  This was physical test! Next, the devil attempted to tempt Jesus by suggesting he throw himself down off of a temple, and command angels to catch him before falling to the ground.  This was a spiritual test! Finally, the devil took Jesus to the top of a mountain to view the nations that would be given to him if he bowed to his adversary. This was a mental test!  You see, we too experience these same types of test in our lives.  Jesus endured so that he could show us how we should prepare for confrontation with unseen forces, and our peers. I challenge you to evaluate areas in your life that tempt you.  Remember that you have the power of our lord and savior to conquer any obstacle set before you.  What did this mean for Christ’s mission? It was a foretaste of the victory at the cross. Here Jesus defeated the tempter who tried to ruin His mission. But here Christ demonstrated that He would not be deterred from His mission…and neither will you!
-Terez Wilson
Director of Alumni & Volunteer Development
 

Saturday, March 4

Isaiah 58:9-14
 
Thus says the LORD:
If you remove from your midst oppression,
false accusation and malicious speech;
If you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
Then light shall rise for you in the darkness,
and the gloom shall become for you like midday;
Then the LORD will guide you always
and give you plenty even on the parched land.
He will renew your strength,
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring whose water never fails.
The ancient ruins shall be rebuilt for your sake,
and the foundations from ages past you shall raise up;
"Repairer of the breach," they shall call you,
"Restorer of ruined homesteads."

If you hold back your foot on the sabbath
from following your own pursuits on my holy day;
If you call the sabbath a delight,
and the LORD's holy day honorable;
If you honor it by not following your ways,
seeking your own interests, or speaking with malice—
Then you shall delight in the LORD,
and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will nourish you with the heritage of Jacob, your father,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Reflection
 
With this reading comes great comfort but also great challenge. At first glance, verse 9 seems to tell us, don’t worry. God will take care of everything. And He does. Yet, as the passage continues, we are invited to trust in God and honor Him in all that we do. This is where the challenge can come in.

Of course, when we are asked if we trust in God to guide us, we would say yes. However, when we are wanting something to happen according to our timeline, we become frustrated with God, thinking he is not answering our prayers. Especially in our day and age of instantaneous gratification, we want things to happen now! Nevertheless, God knows what we need and when we need it.  We are assured that if we do what God has called us to do, He will guide us and lead us to joy.
 
-Colleen Boyette
LANCE Director
 

Friday, March 3

Isaiah 58:1-9
 
Thus says the Lord GOD:
Cry out full-throated and unsparingly,
lift up your voice like a trumpet blast;
Tell my people their wickedness,
and the house of Jacob their sins.
They seek me day after day,
and desire to know my ways,
Like a nation that has done what is just
and not abandoned the law of their God;
They ask me to declare what is due them,
pleased to gain access to God.
"Why do we fast, and you do not see it?
afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?"

Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits,
and drive all your laborers.
Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting,
striking with wicked claw.
Would that today you might fast
so as to make your voice heard on high!
Is this the manner of fasting I wish,
of keeping a day of penance:
That a man bow his head like a reed
and lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Do you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Reflection
 
Lent is, if nothing else, an invitation to mindfulness – mindfulness regarding who God is, who we are, and the “infinite qualitative distinction” between the two (to borrow a phrase from Søren Kierkegaard).  In her recent book on prayer, author Anne Lamott asks, “What’s the difference between God and me?” and then answers her own question: “God never thinks He’s me. . . .”  One of the disciplines most often associated with Lent is fasting.  In today’s reading, the prophet Isaiah emphasizes the fact that God’s people have completely missed the point of fasting by focusing on themselves.  God then poses a rhetorical question: “Is such the fast that I choose?”  I mean, verse three makes it clear that the people are actually proud of their humility!  So, what is the point or purpose of fasting?  Isaiah is glad we asked.
 
It’s somewhat ironic that, in missing the point, the point is made – namely, that God is God and we are not.  When we fast, the mask is off; the illusion of self-sufficiency is exposed for what it is.  Allow me to give you some interesting information about our physical selves, our bodies.  A fully grown human body is made up of about 58 lbs. of oxygen, 2 oz. of salt, 50 qts. of water, 3 lbs. of calcium, 24 oz. of carbon, and dashes of chlorine, phosphorus, fat, iron, sulfur, and glycerin.  All told, there’s an awful lot of wind and water, and a few dusty particles inexplicably and mysteriously held together by the God who loved you and me into existence for one simple but profound reason: that God might love us and that we might embody God’s ways in a hungry, parched world.
 
During this Lenten season, I’d like to invite you to try something with me.  When you pray, resist the temptation to ask for things and, instead, thank God for the gifts we all too often take for granted.  If you’re anything like me, you’ll soon realize how prone we are to focus on ourselves, rather than the One who, in the person of Jesus, claimed to be the very Life that is our heart’s desire, and for which we all hunger and thirst.  St. John Baptist de la Salle, pray for us.  Live Jesus in our hearts, forever!  Amen.
-Dr. Scott Geis
Dean, Rosa Deal School of Arts

 


Thursday, March 2

Deuteronomy 30: 15-20
 
See, I set before you today
life and prosperity, death and destruction.
16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God,
to walk in obedience to him,
and to keep his commands, decrees and laws;
then you will live and increase,
and the Lord your God
 will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient,
 and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 
18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. 
You will not live long
 in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you
that I have set before you life and death,
blessings and curses.
Now choose life,
so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God,
 listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.
 For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore
to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

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Reflection
 
“Decisions, decisions!” That’s what I usually say when I don’t know what choice to make.  As young adults and college students, we have a greater responsibility than before to make decisions on our own on a daily basis.  We’re also expected to take full responsibility for the consequences of these decisions we make.  My dad loves to remind me that, “One decision can change your life for the good or the bad – so make good decisions.” As I reflect on Deuteronomy 30:15- 20, I can identify with a group of people central throughout the entire Old Testament who were presented with an extremely important decision. The Israelites, God’s covenant people, were commanded to decide between life and good versus death and evil, which in this case, had to do with worshipping God and not. If they were to choose life, verse 19 reveals that their seed would experience life as well.  This suggests that we should consider the impact of our decision on others.  

In modern times, we are still constantly commanded by our situations and people around us to make decisions – it’s a part of life. While some decisions seem more or less important, they all either add to or take away from our livelihood. For those who have decided to give up something you love in order to practice restraint, become spiritually disciplined, and create better habits – rest in the knowledge that you made a good decision. Be confident that can accomplish your goal. In this time of growth and consecration, consider decisions of yours that will be good for others. Does visiting the sick or being kind to a stranger come to mind?   My hope for myself and others is that we would appreciate the power of decision and that we would be more selfless, consider others, and in turn, make good decisions!
-RaKesha Gray
Religion and Philosophy, 2017 Lasallian Fellow

 


Ash Wednesday, March 1


Matthew 6:1-6,16-18

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms,
do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

"When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

"When you fast,
do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast,
anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you."
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Reflection
 
Today, March 1st, is Ash Wednesday—the beginning of Lent. The CBU Community is ready to begin the Lenten journey as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus our brother.  During these next forty days, we will walk with him as we historically witness his life, his death, and his resurrection on Easter morning.
 
During this Lenten season, we also walk with Jesus in a new way, following him though the good times—teaching and preaching—and through the difficult times—moving toward his death on the cross.
Through Jesus’ life journey, death, and resurrection we witness the power of prayer and the strength that comes from God our Father.

Lift up your spirit especially, during this Lenten season, through the power of prayer.  Move toward forgiving those who may have offended you or caused you pain.  With gratitude, share generously your gifts and talents with others. 
 
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” Matthew 6:19-21
-Brother Dominic Ehrmantraut, FSC
Director of Mission & Identity, Special Assistant to the President