In all the sacraments, Christ gives to us the transforming power of his love, which we call "grace." But in the Eucharist, and only in the Eucharist, Jesus gives us even more. He gives us his entire self—Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. Of course, the proper response to a gift of this magnitude is gratitude.
Twins often share the same interests and ideas with an equal intensity. Therefore, it is no surprise that Scholastica and her twin brother, Benedict (July 11), established religious communities within a few miles from each other.
Born in 480 of wealthy parents, Scholastica and Benedict were brought up together until he left central Italy for Rome to continue his studies.
Little is known of Scholastica's early life. She founded a religious community for women near Monte Cassino at Plombariola, five miles from where her brother governed a monastery.
The twins visited each other once a year in a farmhouse because Scholastica was not permitted inside the monastery. They spent these times discussing spiritual matters.
According to the Dialogues of St. Gregory the Great, the brother and sister spent their last day together in prayer and conversation. Scholastica sensed her death was close at hand and she begged Benedict to stay with her until the next day.
He refused her request because he did not want to spend a night outside the monastery, thus breaking his own Rule. Scholastica asked God to let her brother remain and a severe thunderstorm broke out, preventing Benedict and his monks from returning to the abbey.
Benedict cried out, "God forgive you, Sister. What have you done?" Scholastica replied, "I asked a favor of you and you refused. I asked it of God and he granted it."
Brother and sister parted the next morning after their long discussion. Three days later, Benedict was praying in his monastery and saw the soul of his sister rising heavenward in the form of a white dove. Benedict then announced the death of his sister to the monks and later buried her in the tomb he had prepared for himself.
Scholastica and Benedict gave themselves totally to God and gave top priority to deepening their friendship with him through prayer. They sacrificed some of the opportunities they would have had to be together as brother and sister in order better to fulfill their vocation to the religious life. In coming closer to Christ, however, they found they were also closer to each other. In joining a religious community, they did not forget or forsake their family but rather found more brothers and sisters.
"All religious are under an obligation, in accordance with the particular vocation of each, to work zealously and diligently for the building up and growth of the whole mystical body of Christ and for the good of the particular churches. It is their duty to foster these objectives primarily by means of prayer, works of penance, and by the example of their own lives" (Vatican II, Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops, 33, Austin Flannery translation).
I remind myself that I am in your presence O Lord. I will take refuge in your loving heart. You are my strength in times of weakness. You are my comforter in times of sorrow.
I try to let go of concerns and worries that may be dragging me down at this present moment. I place any concerns I have in Gods hands - at least for these few minutes of prayer.
There is a time and place for everything, as the saying goes. Lord, grant that I may always desire to spend time in your presence. To hear your call.
The Word of God
Reading 1 Jl 2:12-18
Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment. Perhaps he will again relent and leave behind him a blessing, Offerings and libations for the LORD, your God.
Blow the trumpet in Zion! proclaim a fast, call an assembly; Gather the people, notify the congregation; Assemble the elders, gather the children and the infants at the breast; Let the bridegroom quit his room and the bride her chamber. Between the porch and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep, And say, "Spare, O LORD, your people, and make not your heritage a reproach, with the nations ruling over them! Why should they say among the peoples, 'Where is their God?'"
Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land and took pity on his people.
Responsorial Psalm PS 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 12-13, 14 and 17
R. (see 3a) Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
For I acknowledge my offense, and my sin is before me always: "Against you only have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight."
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Give me back the joy of your salvation, and a willing spirit sustain in me. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Reading 2 2 Cor 5:20—6:2
Brothers and sisters: We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.
Working together, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says:
In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.
Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
Verse Before the Gospel See Ps 95:8
If today your hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.
Gospel Mt 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."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
We are that time of the year when the church invites us to test our inner freedom, and to question the notion: 'I can take it or leave it alone'. Try that with pornography, drink, complaining, talking about yourself, gossiping, gambling. What habits make you hard to live with? Lent is about regaining control of our own lives, especially in those areas that damage other people. We don't admire those whose appetites or habits lead them by the nose.
'A pure heart create for me, O God, Put a steadfast spirit within me'.
Sometimes I wonder what I might say if I were to meet you in person Lord. I think I might say "Thank You Lord" for always being there for me. I know with certainty there were times when you carried me, Lord. When it was through your strength I got through the dark times in my life.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart. (Joel 2:12)
What a sense of urgency! "Turn to me," God calls. "Turn to me now!" Why so serious? Are we such terrible sinners? Are we in worse shape than we were last Lent? What's so important about turning back to him that God presses us to do it right away? Only this: he is "gracious and merciful . . . rich in kindness" (Joel 2:13).
Lent often gets a bad reputation. What with all the fasting, repentance, and self-denial, it can seem like one gray day after another for six long weeks. But the main purpose for this season is God's work of grace, not our acts of humility. More than anything else, Lent is a time of favor from heaven—and that's especially so during this Holy Year of Mercy!
Lent offers us forty days for God to reveal himself. Forty opportunities for us to draw closer to Jesus. Forty days for the Father to shower us with mercy, love, and healing.
God's mercy is an urgent matter during Lent. He wants to do wonderful things in our lives, and it's more likely to happen if we take the time to "return" to him. So make yourself available to God, and let him fill you up. Here are four spiritual resolutions you can make that will help you do just that:
• Spend time each day in personal prayer, praising and thanking God for his love and grace.
• Examine your conscience daily, and repent of any sins that keep you from reflecting God's presence to others.
• Devote some time each day to reading Scripture and asking the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart.
• Make it a point to participate in the life of the Church through the liturgy and parish involvement.
"Lord, I want to respond to your urgent call! Help me to turn to you this Lent. Jesus, reveal yourself to me and change my heart."
Psalm 51:3-6, 12-14, 17 2 Corinthians 5:20–6:2 Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
The Lord says to me and you today "return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he" Let's put it in layman's terms, slang even, for our language, or merely the way I talk: "Come back to Me, with all your love" "Give up yourself, crying, and being sorry" "Tear your heart, not your clothes" "Come back to God! Because He Loves from above and gives forgiveness". If I asked you today to tear your clothes apart with your bare hands and expose your chest to God...would you do it? If I asked you today to fall on your knees, and then on your face and let the dirt and dust come on your face, would you do it? If I asked you to break your skin, cut yourself open in the middle of your chest to expose your heart to Him, would you do it? It's like the little child who asked the heart surgeon if he saw Jesus when he operated on his little heart, did he? If we do what the Holy Catholic Church says (and not always does LOL), we will be exposing ourselves in just the right way for Him to come inside our souls. Stop everything, just stop it! Stop the sin, stop hurting God, stop hurting yourself, stop hurting others, stop giving only to yourself, and start. We prayed today in the Psalms "A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me." As our little boy was under anesthesia, they let us back in to see him there sleeping, out of it. Above his little hospital bed was a little framed picture that said the Psalm 51:10 and says "Create in me a clean heart O God". Looking back, the boy had to endure hardship to come out healed. As he lay there with dry blood on his nose and mouth, we waited, and prayed, and were there for when he woke up to pick him up and take him home. All this I say as an analogy of how we will come out of lent. We will expose ourselves to suffering and giving, and for some, giving will mean suffering when they truly give. Out of the darkness, angels will wait for us on Easter, the rising of Christ from the dead, and our sleep will be awoken to a new life. I promise. Our Lord says to us today "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" What is this strange word "almsgiving"? It's one of the 3 pillars for Lent; prayer, fasting and almsgiving.. Jesus talks about all 3 today in the Holy Gospel, and we are merely doing what our Lord is asking. Prayer, opening up communications with Him, the more the better. Fasting, this self-mortification, this denial to the flesh so the Spirit may grow. Almsgiving, (Greek eleemosyne, "pity," "mercy") this giving of ourselves to the poor which we often ignore, this offering of ourselves, this unique opportunity to seize, this offering of suffering "I'm going to suffer so that you may gain", this actualization of Christ, this actualization of unifying ourselves with Christ.
I asked my kids on the way to school, "what are you giving up and what are you adding for Lent?" And we shouldn't be negative and mean givers, because to give up means to offer up, "here Lord, I love you, I don't want this favorite thing of mine, you can have it instead!" and then, we deny our pleasure and give it to the poor. I give up my vacation and give the money to the poor, I give up my favorite meals and go give them to the poor, I give up shopping and empty my closet and give it to the poor, I give up gossip and go and show mercy to the person being gossiped about, I give up TV time and get on my knees to pray, I give up being so impulsive and acting on them, and wait a few seconds while praying and then acting in the Love of Christ, I give up on being so far from God, and suddenly, I find myself very close to Him. Something strange happened as I read the Holy Scriptures today, more specifically the first, all of a sudden a spiritual awakening and revelation happened, which spoke "God is not like us" LOL, WHOA! You may think "duh Adrian". No, no, you don't know what I mean, I mean, He is not a mere human. I am not like you. I am not vengeful. I am not impatient. I am not doubtful. I am not spiteful. I am not limited. You see, God is not a human being, He can live among human beings, (and probably lives in every single human out there), He is in one word as revealed afterwards to me, in one word and in every sense of the word...God is AWESOME. I am loving. I am forgiving. I am patient. I am faithful. I am mercy. I have no bounds. You see, the Lord is as big as the universe and then more universes. We can not fathom the love of such a being with such a HUGE heart! Take you some of that! Get you some of that! So then, Lent is a great time of Joy. Why? Because there is a great joy in giving.
How? By giving time to God, treasure to God in the poor, and offering yourself to Him in His Holy Church. Is it so bad that ultimately God is asking for this through Lent...your sacrificial and loving heart? Empty yourself, penance, reconcile, get right, repent. Please believe. PLEASE! Please, because I'm a mere human, but I notice things in the spirit. To those who give, God gives more. Those who do not, more is taken away. This is not a joke, this is not a nice thought. You give time to the Lord and He MAKES more time for you and your personal things. You give money to the Lord in the poor and church and He MAKES your life be taken care of. You give time to prayer, and He unites to Himself through this openness to Him. Lent is for our own Good. And for the Good of the Holy Church. For the good of the world. For salvation, the culmination of the glorious day of rising from the dead with HIM!!!