A Lenten Devotional for 2020 A collection of reflections on the Lectionary readings by members of The Academy of St. Elizabeth
LENT – is often associated with Jesus’ forty days of struggle in the wilderness. But before we join Jesus in the wild garden, we begin with ashes. Ashes – decayed vegetation – when scattered upon a garden actually promote life. Out of death springs life! The wilderness, therefore, is lively. The wilderness is opportunity. The wilderness serves as a training ground where we discover, seek direction, and find purpose. Jesus did not automatically launch into his ministry. Prior to his mission, he nurtured his power in nature. The preparation made possible what he accomplished after the wilderness. This Lent, Jesus reminds us that we are not alone in the struggles of our modern realities. New Jersey may not look like a wilderness. The Academy of St. Elizabeth certainly does not look like a wilderness! Our lives, nevertheless, are full of trials and temptations. During Lent, we realign our relationship with God and one another. We determine who and what we truly serve. We become clear once again about whom we can surely trust. Not only is God, Emmanuel, always with us, but we are also accompanied by our community members. We are so excited that this Lenten guide is a shared work. Teachers, administrators, and voices from young women representing every grade offer their reflections and prayers. These contributions are truly a testament to God’s presence in our lives, and they are a gift to the rest of our spiritual sisters and brothers. This gift invites each of us to pause, ponder, and prepare to receive the ultimate Good News. May this Lent lead us to an Easter that affirms the holiness of all life, and restore the image of us that is so tattered by this world’s pain and sin. Scripture texts from the New American Standard Bible.
Ash Wednesday February 26 2 Corinthians 5:20 – 6:2 Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them. When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. As a classicist, every year when I receive ashes and am told that I am dust and to dust will return, I am reminded of a work by one of my favorite Roman poets, Horace’s Ode 4.7, wherein he expresses a similar thought: “We are dust and shadow.” But there are some important differences between his world and ours. In the Greco-Roman tradition the underworld was for most a gloomy place where the soul was only nourished by how much glory one had achieved in life, and it was specifically being remembered for doing great things that gave the dead this single small delight—doing great things without recognition apparently wasn’t enough. And yet the Greeks themselves fairly early on still questioned whether that pursuit of glory was worthwhile: when Odysseus meets the ghost of Achilles, Achilles famously says that in seeking glory rather than a happy and long life of peace, he had made the wrong choice, and even as a leader among the dead, he was unsatisfied. As Christians, we have a greater hope for the succeeding life; there we will be able to share in glory, and yet not ours, but God’s, having been saved by grace. Again, contrasting our religion with earlier Greek thought, the word that Paul uses for grace (“charis”) had a variety of meanings among non-Christian authors, but there was always for them the idea that grace was a quality we showed or acted with for the purpose of gaining something in return. But for us, grace is a thing given by God freely and undeservedly, and it’s what allows us to turn toward God. As Catholics, we nevertheless acknowledge the importance of the practice of good works. In today’s Gospel passage, Christ cautions that these works should still be done in secret (Matt. 6:4, 6, 18) so as not to augment our own glory (pace the Greeks), for even our good works emanate from the gift of grace. This Gospel reading advocating secrecy in our works-practice may seem strange for today in light of the ashes—one of the more public symbols of our faith—we receive, but I think they can be reconciled in that the ashes are not to signal our piety but to serve as yet another reminder of God’s glory, for without that grace—again freely and undeservedly given—we could not turn to God in reflection and repentance. Paul reminds us in today’s second reading not to receive God’s grace “in vain” (2 Cor. 6:1), and I think that’s an important reminder as we begin Lent that we need to cherish this gift, to allow ourselves in the Lenten season to be humble, to disconnect from some of the earthly things we mistakenly love, and to restore in our hearts a greater love of God. But being consistently good in our hearts and in our actions is a difficult thing. As humans, we cannot be perfect by definition (literally, perfection is completeness, i.e., a state where no improvement is possible), but sometimes the amount of my imperfection (or perceived imperfection) gnaws at me and makes me ashamed. Yet however much I’ve at times fallen away, I’ve always found peace in the Lenten opportunity for renewal, in my Lord taking me in my brokenness and restoring me. May you find that same peace in the power of God’s grace.
• Noah Stanzione World Languages, Latin Religion Department
Thursday February 27 Deuteronomy 30:15-20 “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.” Within this passage from Deuteronomy, God calls us all to follow His path of faith rather than the opposing. He displays the benefits of following Him to be full of blessings and prosperity. Whereas if one were to stray from God’s path to the other he or she would face an abundance of self-destruction. Therefore we are called to follow God in all that He does. We are encouraged to do as Jesus and the Disciples did in order to become one with God in Heaven. During this season of Lent, we should all strive to get back to God’s path. Though the road for one may be longer than for another, according to Deuteronomy 30:15-20, the end goal is the same and will result in eternal happiness for “you and your descendants” in the land that God promised to our fathers.
Luke 9:22-25 “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.” And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? Luke 9:22-25 describes the lengths that one must go to properly follow Jesus. It describes the possibility of being rejected and the task of picking up one’s cross every day and bearing it without protest. It also mentions that the people who risk their lives for the welfare of others will have eternal life later in Heaven. This notion goes along with the everyday moral of “treat others as you want to be treated”. One must be respectful, kind, and willing to risk themselves and/or their reputation on Earth for others in hopes to have the same done for them. During this Lenten season, we must be able to put ourselves last in order to help others become the best they can be. By doing so, not only are we strengthening our relationship with God but we are also allowing someone else to have the capacity to love and truly follow God.
• Sarah Marsh Grade 11
Friday February 28 Isaiah 58:1-9a Matthew 9:14-15 They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. The concept of fasting can seem rather foreign to many high school students. According to Roman Catholic tradition one is supposed to fast before one receives the Eucharist, so as the Host becomes our break/fast – our first source of daily nourishment. I am sure many people are guilty of breaking this “rule.” Fasting is much more than simply not eating, and that is what God is expressing in Isaiah. Many religions practice fasting, and it can be an opportunity to pay attention to our appetites, our personal desires that distract us from loving God and neighbor. Fasting, however, does not automatically enhance our spirituality. The Lord explains that just because one is fasting does not mean they are absolved from their Christian duty. In fact, it is better to be a good person (and not fast) than to be a bad person and fast. The act of fasting does not excuse the rest of the sins committed. Considering modern society, one may also argue that fasting from food could have negative affects. So many young women are pressured to fast from food all year! Lent could potentially magnify these feelings, and a negative body image is actually the opposite of what God wants for us. Looking at a good deed, such as fasting, as a magical method to get out of doing the harder work of working on ourselves to become more loving, forgiving people, turns fasting into a gimmick. Fasting, when used to simply one's own advantage, misses the point that fasting, when approached in healthy ways, is intended for spiritual maturity.
• Megan von Schaumburg Grade 12
Saturday February 29 Isaiah 58:9b-14 Luke 5:27-32 After that He went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me.” And he left everything behind, and got up and began to follow Him. And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke is a very important bible passage because it reflects Jesus’ love for all. Jesus went into the tax collector's booth where he saw Levi. Levi was a tax collector and a sinner. However, Jesus was tolerant and embraced the sinner. Levi held a banquet at his house where our lord and savior ate a meal alongside sinners. When asked why, Jesus responded, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Jesus is not looking to judge us for our faults, but rather guide and support us. We, as individuals, should learn from Jesus and next time someone does something unkind or immoral, forgive them. Instead of judging them, do what Jesus did and support them.
• Sam Insler Grade 10
First Sunday March 1 Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7 Romans 5:12-19 Matthew 4:1-11 Then the priest shall take the basket from your hand and set it down before the altar of the LORD your God. You shall answer and say before the LORD your God, ‘My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down to Egypt and sojourned there, few in number; but there he became a great, mighty and populous nation. And the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, and imposed hard labor on us. Then we cried to the LORD, the God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our voice and saw our affliction and our toil and our oppression; and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror and with signs and wonders; and He has brought us to this place and has given us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. Now behold, I have brought the first of the produce of the ground which You, O LORD have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the LORD your God, and worship before the LORD your God. “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” We are fond of using the first half of Alexander Pope’s aphorism from his “Essay on Criticism,” but we very often forget the second half of the idea. Part of being a human being is the ability to make mistakes, hoping that we will learn and grow from them. Some mistakes matter very little in the long run, even if they feel like the end of the world when they happen. Forgetting your socks or a water bottle or a piece of homework matter less when compared with mistakes that result in harming someone else or yourself. Rather than shrugging off the mistake, claim responsibility and ask for forgiveness. Through forgiving others, we can find peace of mind. We can avoid watering the soil of the poison tree that William Blake describes in his Songs of Experience. In clinging to ways that we have wronged other people or vice versa, all we do is hurt ourselves. That doesn’t mean it isn’t tempting to be petty or to cling to the “easier” path. Many of us will face our own “temptation in the desert” in our lives, but what matters is how we meet that challenge. Will you stand up to it and embrace forgiveness, or will you fall, pick yourself up, and try again?
• Caitlyn Roper English Department
Monday March 2 Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18 Matthew 25:31-46 But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ One of the most beautiful and meaningful ways that God has allowed us to act as faithful servants of the Lord is through actually equating interactions with other humans as a reflection of interactions with God. Matthew 25:31-46 is quite a powerful reinforcement of the importance of caring for our neighbors through urging inherently undivine humans to interact with other undivine humans as if we are directly communicating with God the divine. Matthew 25:31-46 depicts a God who takes the exchanges of His servants extremely personally, even portraying seemingly mundane human interactions as determining factors of one’s final destination in the afterlife. Lent is a time of intense reflection, and as many Christians are craving a deeper connection with God during this liturgical season, this image of God’s omnipresence inside each of us can facilitate a greater heavenly understanding through simply interacting with other humans. This passage also calls us to reject the mindset that humans are restricted to the role of the lowly servant unworthy of anything remotely close to God. Placing the value of a human’s treatment on the same level as the value of God’s treatment can actually be taken as a beautifully pro-human paradox. While humans will never embody the status of a truly divine entity, this passage tells us that God views humans as subjects worthy of manifesting His divine presence. This philosophy redefines the role of people altogether, transforming it from merely human as the sinful subordinate to human as the worthy servant of God. A productive focus for a Christian during this Lenten season might be training his or her brain to perceive the world through this divine lens, which through improving that person’s relationship with others, will ultimately improve his or her relationship with God.
• Kaitlyn Garrett Grade 11
Tuesday March 3 Isaiah 55:10-11 Matthew 6:7-15 Feast of Saint Katharine Drexel And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. ‘Give us this day our daily bread. ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. Before Jesus left this earth, he gifted his Apostles with something very special - direct communication with God. This method of communication allowed the Apostles to speak to God directly in the form of prayer, and, in effect, allowed them to feel more connected to God. As mentioned in this passage, the “Our Father” serves as a primary example of how to pray, and as individuals we are able to use this example and apply it to our own thoughts and needs to personalize our prayer experience. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus helped us to realize our ability to pray, and as individuals we are able to grow upon and develop this method of communication to perfectly fit our personal relationship with God. Prayer is a beautiful thing, as it not only serves as a personal connection with God but also reminds us that God is always one thought away. Prayer is often referred to as one’s way of “talking to God,” and can be as simple as thinking of God throughout our day or recognizing his presence in everyday things. In realizing just how close God is to us at all times, we truly understand just how much God loves us and looks out for us in our daily lives, and know that God is always there for us no matter what.
• Danielle Silverman Grade 11
Wednesday March 4 Jonah 3:1-10 Luke 11:29-32 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three days’ walk. Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes. He issued a proclamation and it said, “In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.” When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it. Jonah gives readers an idea that God appreciates when we take the time to put aside our individual needs to focus on what God aspires us to do. In this reading, Jonah is sent by God to deliver a message to the Ninevites that their large city will be overthrown in forty days. The Ninevites believed the news and decided to wear sackcloth, symbolic of remorse. Once King Nineveh heard what Jonah had proclaimed, he told the people of the city to not eat or drink, and to be covered in sackcloth, for everyone must change their evil ways that caused God to threaten their city's future. God noticed that the people immediately set aside their own personal needs to acknowledge that they committed wrongdoing, by punishing themselves. They suffered for the Lord, just like how we hold ourselves back from the nagging urge of temptation within our minds during the forty day period of Lent. God saw that the Ninevites avoided evil, to leave room for self and community improvement. God decided that the city should not be overthrown after all. This passage could help us as a community, as we should all challenge ourselves during the time of Lent to prove to God that we know we sin, yet are willing to improve our internal well being. The time of Lent is almost like a time to redeem ourselves, to make ourselves stronger in faith and love in God’s eyes.
• Emma Kelly Grade 9
Thursday March 5 Matthew 7:7-12 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 asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks 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. “Seeking” is often used in the Old Testament and Jewish tradition for prayer, with God’s will as the objective. “Knocking” (on the “doors of mercy”) was a Jewish expression for prayer. “Asking,” “Seeking,” and “knocking” are not three separate actions, but three Jewish expressions for prayer. These words remind us that prayer is not about making a shopping list directed towards a heavenly dispensary. Prayer is a quest. How can your prayer life nurture a dynamic relationship with God? ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________
Friday March 6 Ezekiel 18:21-28 “But if the wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed and observes all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die. All his transgressions which he has committed will not be remembered against him; because of his righteousness which he has practiced, he will live. Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord GOD, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live? Again, when a wicked man turns away from his wickedness which he has committed and practices justice and righteousness, he will save his life. Because he considered and turned away from all his transgressions which he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die.
Matthew 5:20-26 For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. In this passage we are reminded that we must reconcile our relationships on earth in order to maintain a strong relationship with God. One cannot fully connect with God when holding a grudge towards someone else. We must free ourselves of hatred and anger by practicing forgiveness. In his lifetime, Jesus drew attention to the importance of maintaining good relationships not only with God, but people as well; and forgiveness is the heart of all good relationships. The passage also emphasizes that worship alone is not enough if you are not embodying the word of the Lord outside the walls of your church. It’s important to keep God and Christian morals in your thoughts and actions every day. During the time of Lent it’s important to remember the sacrifices Jesus made for us and give up any spite you have towards others. Forgiveness is one of the greatest ways to spread God's love and strengthen your relationship with God.
• Ellie Griffith Grade 11
Saturday March 7 Matthew 5:43-48
Feast of Saints Perpetua & Felicity, Martyrs
I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Twenty-two years old, nursing her infant, Perpetua composed theological reflections on the Bible in 203AD! This rare surviving female writer leaves us with first-person narration recounting her experiences communicating with God. Scriptural passages set the precedent whereby the Holy Spirit speaks via visions and dreams. In this Spirit, women, including Perpetua, were endowed with the spiritual gift of delivering God’s messages via prophesying. Perpetua was famously celebrated among bishops who acknowledged her special relationship with God. Pope Stephen of Rome also verified a woman’s capacity to serve as such a vessel. Perpetua, a prophet, an African noblewoman, is also remembered for her role as martyr. She died defending her faith. Even though her parents pleaded with her to avoid martyrdom, even though her husband implored her to not abandon her baby son, Perpetua insisted that she would never deny her identity as a Christian. She refused to renounce her faith, even if it spared her from a gruesome death in the coliseum. In this horrific event, Perpetua was slaughtered alongside other Christians. Felicity, her servant, who had been 8 months pregnant, delivered her child immediately before being mauled to death by a wild cow. A deacon was killed with a single bite of a leopard. As a sword penetrated another deacon, he removed his ring and gave it to his executioner to remind and haunt the soldier of the martyrs’ faith. Another victim used his last bit of strength to “kiss his murderer so as to consummate his martyrdom with a kiss of peace.” Finally, as Bishop Tertullian reports, “Perpetua could not have been slain unless she willed it” – she took the hand of the young gladiator and placed it upon her own throat as her torso was stabbed until she died. I do not intend to sensationalize the gory details for the sake of drama. Rather, I confront the trauma of this time period because martyrdom is only possible when gross religious intolerance reigns. Martyrdom is the product of people insisting that someone should die because of their beliefs. If we are going to change the world, then we cannot turn an eye to the pain of those around us. We cannot sanitize their situations. At the Academy, we begin and end our days praying while gazing upon a mangled body – Jesus, vulnerable on a crucifix. This regular reminder to face the injustice and violence that Jesus endured prompts us to identify and eradicated the other places where persecution persists. In the Gospel of Matthew, God instructs the community to pray for those who persecute you. In other words, following God does not spare you from persecution. Persecution is actually presumed. Following Jesus might mean that your life becomes more difficult. The pervasiveness of hate and persecution, however, does not require that we accept this status quo! Given the constraints, given the immense power of the government who facilitated these mass killings, sometimes the only agency we have is our words and integrity. Yet, Christians today occupy a vastly different world where many of us have the power to transform the world into a more loving place. For Perpetua, any path available to her involved pain. She decided between the pain of rejecting her authentic self – of concealing or suppressing her relationship with Christ, and the heart-wrenching pain of parting with one’s family. From the dungeon, Perpetua recounts her fear: “I was very much afraid… I was very distressed by my anxiety for my infant… I suckled my child, which was now enfeebled with hunger… I was languishing because I saw my family languish on my account.” Even in her steadfast faith, she viscerally knew the cost of choosing honesty and loyalty to her convictions. Faith steered her confidently towards martyrdom, but her confidence in God did not remove the obstacle. In her final moments, God grants her visions of peace feasting in heaven. Hence, the Church calendar celebrates her memory with a feast in spite of the somberness of bloodshed. Although Christians across denominational lines share common appreciation for Perpetua and Felicity, second and third century persecutions revealed tensions and fracturing within the early Christian community. Martyrdom exposed the fickle and wavering commitment among its members. Unlike Perpetua, many denied their faith. When persecution relaxed, many wanted to rejoin the church and be readmitted to Eucharist. The question of their repentance caused serious divisions. African churches wanted to hold Jesus traitors accountable for their lack of faith. In the above Gospel passage, God challenges us to be perfect as God is perfect! African congregations took this Biblical charge quite seriously. Italy, in contrast, wanted to include all the baptized, even the Jesus-deniers, back into the fold. This ancient debate continues to play out in new and modern contexts. Who are the people today who are stigmatized as imperfect Christians? Could we forgive people in our community who seem to betray the faith? Could we forgive those who betray us? To what extent can we possibly pray for our persecutors? Could we, in turn, unknowingly perpetuate the persecution of others? Where are we called to action – to convert systems of evil into systems of justice? What are we willing to give up for our faith?
• Rhian Jeong Religion Department
Second Sunday March 8 Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18 Matthew 17:1-9 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John, the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” The Transfiguration is a period of time during which Peter, James and John experience a euphoric and divine moment. Jesus led the three Apostles on a mysterious journey to a mountain top; the difficult task surely must have bewildered them. When they reach the top, Jesus suddenly is transformed into this figure of divinity and it’s a moment of awe. Here, the three Apostles witnessed Christ’s glory, something that remains veiled to the rest of his friends and followers. I imagine the Apostles felt they were special and important because they were being let in on a special secret – an experience that no one else ever had. Peter is overjoyed, and experiences such happiness that he wants to build tents atop the mountain for them so they could stay there eternally; of course, it is a natural feeling to want to hold onto a magical moment. It’s instinctual for us to want to stay in a place where we feel loved, happy, wanted, and safe – where we can live in blissful peace. The journey to the mountaintop is symbolic of our own upward journey to heaven. It takes focus, commitment and drive to get there. Many times we slip and fall, come to a fork in the road, or question if we are on the right path. Every day brings new challenges, but our faith tells us to keep going, that the long journey is worth the ultimate reward. As an educator, I like to share the long and arduous journey of learning with my students. I learn from them daily, much like I want them to learn from me. Together, we climb the mountain and along the way we are reminded that our journey thus far has been worth it. The knowledge we gain, the moment when something clicks and we meet with success, is a small glimpse of the glorious moment the Apostles experienced. The destination is the ultimate goal, but the climb to the summit is where we learn who we are, where our faith is strengthened and how much we can overcome.
• Daniela Sepulveda World Languages, Spanish
Monday March 9
Feast of Saint Frances of Rome Daniel 9:4b-10 I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed and said, “Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and loving kindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. Moreover, we have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers and all the people of the land. “Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those who are nearby and those who are far away in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of their unfaithful deeds which they have committed against You. Open shame belongs to us, O Lord, to our kings, our princes and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him; nor have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets.
Luke 6:36-38 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” Luke 6:36-38 discusses the importance of treating others as you wish to be treated. In this excerpt, you are called to be merciful, in order to receive mercy; to be forgiving to be consequently forgiven; and called to not condemn in order to not be condemned. This passage shows the importance of giving, in order to receive. This poses the message that one must live for others, in order to receive good things for oneself. This is why everyone is called to service in some way. Volunteering one’s time is the easiest way to live a life for others. Soup kitchens, food banks, community service, and recreational care are all ways to ensure goodness to come your way. This goodness, however, is not always in the material prospect. Sometimes, the only reward one will receive for giving one’s time for others, will simply be the satisfied feeling of knowing that the world has become a better place; someone’s life has been changed because of one person’s actions.
• Julie Prestigiacomo Grade 12
Tuesday March 10 Isaiah 1:10, 16-20 Matthew 23:1-12 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted. Jesus condemns only the practices of Pharisees and scribes. Jesus does not criticize the Pharisees’ teachings. In fact, Jesus had just been defending the Pharisees’ doctrinal perspectives! Historically, the emerging Pharisaic leadership preached very similar ideas as Jesus. A particularly famous commonality is their insistent faith in a resurrection. In this passage, however, a reassessment of theology is not the primary concern. Rather, Jesus disapproves of actions that are motivated for the wrong reason. When have you acted for the mere attention of others? ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ When people curate their image primarily to garner others’ attention, one is living a less authentic life. Seeking the attention of others, however, is not inherently problematic. Or rather, caring about how others perceive us is not inherently problematic. In fact, God teaches us to be compassionate and generous with our neighbors; thus, we are called by God to care about what others think and feel. Pursuing a faithful and meaningful life involves distinguishing the difference. Hyper-preoccupation with projecting a perfect Instagram image will unlikely result in deepening your relationship with God? ;) In this case, we shouldn’t measure our self-worth by how many people heart our photos. But if we’ve earned a reputation for being snobbish, selfish, callous, judgmental, exclusionary, or any other trait of this nature, it is our responsibility to reassess ourselves and reorient our lives towards becoming more loving, just, and merciful. There is no Bible passage that says, “Just be yourself and never change.” If someone is a mean person, I hope he changes. Indeed, the Bible does say, “those who exalt themselves will be humbled.” Such passages invite us to self reflect upon the areas of our lives that need to transform and conform to God’s intention for us. During this Lent season, what habits need to be sacrificed in order to be the Child of God you’re called to be?
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Wednesday March 11 Jeremiah 18:18-20 Matthew 20:17-28 As Jesus was about to go up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and on the way He said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.” Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him. And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She said to Him, “Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit one on Your right and one on Your left.” But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to Him, “We are able.” He said to them, “My cup you shall drink; but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.” And hearing this, the ten became indignant with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Like many mothers, the mother in our story desired greatness for her two sons. She hoped for them to take the two highest positions in God’s Kingdom. And, she is not shy about making that request of her nephew, Jesus. The request is naive in two ways. First, as Jesus points out, the seats at his right and left hands are not his to reward. Instead, Jesus instructs that “these places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” Next, Jesus questions whether the two brothers appreciate the sacrifice required to be counted worthy of such positions. They will have to be able to “drink the cup” that Jesus was about to drink. Of course, Jesus is foreshadowing his great suffering at the hands of the chief priests and his crucifixion. The lesson learned from these passages is that there is no quick fix. The ultimate reward of a spot in Heaven is granted by God for our faithful service to others. This passage explains to us that the process of living your life with God is a long one. It makes certain demands and requires sacrifice. Ultimately, John and James earned their spots in Heaven, as one died a martyr and the other was banished because of his belief in God. And, through this passage, they have shown us what God asks of each of us on the path to Heaven.
• Maggie Macchiarola Grade 10
Thursday March 12 Jeremiah 17:5-10 Luke 16:19-31 There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ No one talks about Hell more than Jesus. Even though God often gets a rep in the Old Testament for being wrathful, God does not threaten people with the prospect of eternal fires. Instead, it is the peaceful, loving Jesus who doubles down on irreprehensible behavior. The rich man treats Lazarus as his servant. Entitled and condescending, the rich man has determined which humans are below him. When do we treat people as objects? When do we only consider how a human can serve us? When do we adopt a mentality: Those people over there can make our cheap products, and we don’t care about their low wages or unsafe factory conditions. ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ Even in the afterlife, the rich man still does not get it. I think many of us hope that in our next life, the truth will be revealed to us. I hope that I’ll suddenly understand everything that I didn’t on earth. But from this account, the rich man continues to act like the boss of Lazarus!!! When are we so fixated on our sense of social hierarchies that we fail to see how God is trying to change our perceptions on how we relate to one another? ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ Lazarus, meanwhile, is the one who has a name. The rich man is not named. What does this teach us about who is worthy of our attention? __________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ Lazarus is seen in heaven with Father Abraham! In other words, heaven is populated before Jesus dies on the cross and resurrects. What does this teach us about God’s ability to save people in a variety of ways? ____________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ Finally, the rich man not only sees Lazarus, but also communicates with the heavenly realm. What are some possibilities and implications of imagining a realm where heaven and hell are a little more connected? _______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________
Friday March 13 Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28a Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, and Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.” “They have moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.” When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father. So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing— and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it. As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt. Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed. So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt. I’m sure we all recognize this story of envy—your sister gets a new phone, your classmate has the newest smartwatch, your friend has a nicer car than you. Some people just seem to be favored over others. In this passage, we see the favoritism of a child, whom the other children come to sorely resent. When Joseph reaches his brothers, the first thing they do is take his robe, the symbol, they believed, of his status. His brothers believed that if he were stripped of his father’s care and his fancy robe he would lose all that made him special. It’s easy for us, in our blessed and prosperous lives, to get caught up on things like nice clothes or news gadgets or flashy gifts. It’s easy for us to let our objects come to possess us and alter our relationships with other people. We must remember that, at the end of the day, that robe was still just a robe. It did not give Joseph any special power, nor did taking it from him enlighten his brothers in any way. As we embark on this Lenten journey, some of us will be called to give up something we find dear to us, as Joseph was forced to do. There will be times when this becomes difficult, when we think we can’t possibly go without X item, and when this happens, we must look to Joseph, who rose himself from slavery to a position of great influence—without his beautiful robe.
• Molly McKenna Grade 11
Saturday March 14 Micah 7:14-15, 18-20 Luke 15:1-3, 11-32 Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He told them this parable, saying, “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate. Luke tells the story of the Lost Son. This is a passage I assume many of us are familiar with, but what is its significance? At first glance, it seems like a story highlighting the importance of forgiveness. The father forgives his son for his mistakes. I, however, see this story as an example of unconditional love. The Lost Son took advantage of his family and made serious mistakes. Regardless, when he came back his father embraced him with love. The wellbehaved brother struggles with this. Why is there no reward when he is always kind? Why is there no feast? The father answer, “we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” This response highlights familial love and respect. This is difficult to understand this kind of unending forgiveness, but I have been able to grasp it most in terms of familial love. Agape is the Greco-Christian term that refers to the highest form of love. It is this type of love that is explored when the father accepts his son with open arms. Regardless of mistakes and distance, with love, the father is able to embrace and celebrate his lost son. The question remains, what does this mean for our community? The answer is to embrace everyone, always. We are called to do the same in our community. In high school, there is plenty of hardship: extensive stress, friend drama, teacher/student frustration. Regardless, we must remember the love fostered by the Academy of Saint Elizabeth is in no way conditional. Through hardship and uncertainty, the Academy community offers the highest love and the Gospel of Luke calls us to remember to share it.
• Ellie Gates Grade 12
Third Sunday March 15 Exodus 17:3-7 John 4:5-42 There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” She said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.” He said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, salvation is from the Jews. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” At this point His disciples came, and they were amazed that He had been speaking with a woman, yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why do You speak with her?” So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men, “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?” … From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them. Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.” After Jesus asks the Samaritan woman for water from the well, he tells her he is the source of an eternal water that would sustain her for the rest of her life and guide her into eternal life. While the woman believes that what Jesus is offering her is something concrete that would enable her to never visit the well again, Jesus is actually offering something less tangible to sustain her. Just like the life-giving water, there are other intangible concepts that human-kind needs to survive like friends and activities that bring joy. These are essential actions in our lives that sustain us in ways material goods cannot. They are just as necessary as the life-giving water from Christ, such as spending time with friends on the weekends to participating in team sports to self-care days. These are essential to human success and should not be overlooked or forgotten. Taking time off from the materialistic needs of the world and focusing on rebuilding your connection with God is the most fulfilling of these activities. This story reminds us that gifts from God my not always be material goods. His gifts may be in the form of a new friend, a fun activity, or a stronger connection to Him.
• Julia Lisco Grade 12
Monday March 16 2 Kings 5:1-15b Luke 4:24-30 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And 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 the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. In Luke, Elijah is asked to work with those foreign to him, instead of the ones suffering near him. When someone you know offers to help in a big way, it does not make sense because you know them...and you know what they’re capable of. When you have less familiarity with someone, it makes it easier to trust them. For example, in an operation, would you rather have a doctor who happens to be your neighbor, or one you’ve never met before? The doctor you are unfamiliar with sees you with fresh eyes, and can distance her or himself from any emotions they may have. When you don’t have an emotional connection to something, it’s easier to do because you have fewer hesitations about how someone might feel. Elijah knew this, which was the reason he helped those far away from him. When he was jeered at because of it, he simply knew that he was not really what they wanted.
• Nala Davis Grade 11
Tuesday March 17 Daniel 3:25, 34-43 Matthew 18:21-35
Feast of Saint Patrick Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” I think in today’s society, young women strive for perfection. We aim to have the perfect appearance both inside and out. Not only do we want people to envy our complexion, but we want them to think that we have it all together. In our striving for perfection, we often times forget the most important thing, we are all human. In Matthew’s parable of the Unmerciful Servant, Jesus teaches us about forgiveness. Jesus tells us not to forgive 7 times, but 77 times. It’s important to remember in our society so focused on perfection, to not only forgive others but to forgive ourselves. There is no possible way for us to be perfect. We must forgive ourselves for our mistakes and forgive our friends for their wrongdoings. Sometimes, forgiveness isn’t always for others but for ourselves. When we forgive, we let go of the anger or disappointment we were working so hard to hold onto which allows us to find peace. At the end of the day, God is the one who forgives us of all our sins so forgive yourself for not doing well on that test, forgive your friend for forgetting to invite you to Panera last week. Forgive, because we are not perfect, we are human.
• Shayne Kelly History Department
Wednesday March 18 Feast of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9 Now listen, Israel, listen carefully to the rules and regulations that I am teaching you to follow so that you may live and enter and take possession of the land that God, the God-ofYour-Fathers, is giving to you. Don’t add a word to what I command you, and don’t remove a word from it. Keep the commands of God, your God, that I am commanding you. Pay attention: I’m teaching you the rules and regulations that God commanded me, so that you may live by them in the land you are entering to take up ownership. Keep them. Practice them. You’ll become wise and understanding. Just make sure you stay alert. Keep close watch over yourselves. Don’t forget anything of what you’ve seen. Don’t let your heart wander off. Stay vigilant as long as you live. Teach what you’ve seen and heard to your children and grandchildren.
Matthew 5:17-19 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven” God asks us to follow the commandments he has given us. He hopes that we will follow even the most miniscule laws because they are there to protect God’s creations. There are many more laws than just the Ten Commandments which are discussed in the Bible. How do we know which laws we should follow? It is important to interpret these laws with a present day understanding, using our knowledge of ethics and our modern world in order to apply these laws. Jesus wanted to convey the fact that he is not there to argue with the prophets or laws already in place. He is simply emphasizing what they mean. He wants us to understand that we were placed on this Earth to spread goodness, not evil. Following the laws is just one step of spreading God’s love, and we must take it one step further by helping those around us. We should not encourage others to break the rules because this will encourage evil. Every day we are presented with an opportunity to follow our path to God or stray off that path. We will be tempted by the evil in this world to hurt others and break the commandments. Joining clubs like Bridges or Kind Campaign at our school is the perfect way to inspire us to help others. If we help each other and encourage others to choose justice and kindness, we will be led to a better understanding of God’s almighty love and his open arms to heaven.
• Uliana Leshchuk Grade 9
Thursday March 19
Feast of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary 2 Samuel 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16 Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22 Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24 Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife. Joseph was going to leave her! Mary’s pregnancy stigmatized her. Mary would have likely been branded as a societal scandal! Following God meant that she would incur the burden of cultural shame, loneliness, and rejection. When have you been “a Joseph”? When have you been tempted to turn someone away because they seem unworthy of your affection? ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ As we know, Joseph will ultimately not reject Mary. In many ways, this is a profound testament to angelic, spiritual beings. Had Joseph not experienced something profoundly powerful, he would have no reason to return to Mary. In other words, Joseph must have had an intense intervention in order to be moved to marry Mary. When has God guided you to make a courageous counter-cultural decision? ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ In an age where blood and genealogy is highly guarded, it is amazing that Joseph adopts Jesus as his son. This is the first case of many New Testament passages that emphasize the sacredness of adoption! Jesus will even eventually say that the adoptive spiritual family is more important than the biological connection! When have you been “a Joseph”? When have you loved someone in such a way they become regarded as family? ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________
Friday March 20 Hosea 14:2-10 Mark 12:28-34 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” The scribe said to Him, “Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that HE IS ONE, AND THERE IS NO ONE ELSE BESIDES HIM; AND TO LOVE HIM WITH ALL THE HEART AND WITH ALL THE UNDERSTANDING AND WITH ALL THE STRENGTH, AND TO LOVE ONE’S NEIGHBOR AS HIMSELF, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions. Mark talks about two very important commandments we are asked to follow. The first is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This means to be devout to God and to fully trust in him. It is important to pray often to build a strong relationship with God. Lent is a time of sacrifice. Jesus sacrificed his life to save us from sin. Because of this, we need to love God and only God. The second is, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Everyone deserves to be treated with kindness no matter the circumstance. Jesus teaches us to love and serve all and to be respectful to one another. The Academy of St. Elizabeth instills these values in us daily. We learn about the power of God and how He will always forgive us and help us succeed in all of our endeavors. In addition, we are taught to include every member of our community. I have learned that a small amount of kindness goes a long way and will positively impact someone’s life. Because of this, it is important to love others as yourself.
• Katie Dusko Grade 9
Saturday March 21 Hosea 6:1-6 Luke 18:9-14 And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” My main takeaway of this scripture is its lesson of humility and understanding of the impact of one’s actions and words. In this verse, we see a Pharisee who, technically speaking, has a prominent faith. However, by boasting of his religious participation ‘points’, the sincerity of his prayer is removed. On the other hand, the verse describes a man who is sinful, but who admits to his sins, begs for mercy, and in the end is justified. The Gospel states, “for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Lent is a season for prayer and reflection. And although the haughty Pharisee reflected on all the good that he has done, he excluded the Lord in his speech; diminishing his own relationship with his Father. Prayer, as I have learned it, is a two way conversation between us and the Lord. In Matthew 5:5-9, the Lord is telling us that prayer is simple and sacred. By speaking at the Lord about what he already knows, we may miss an opportunity to grow closer to Him. Scripture teaches us another important component of prayer – just as the Tax Collector acknowledged his wrong doings, rather than reiterating to God almighty what he already knows, we too must assess our faults. I believe that trusting in God needs to be complimented with our commitment to acknowledge our limitations, and try to become better community members. Focusing our time with God in prayer needs to be part of the process of working to better ourselves for Him, for others. Therefore, in this Lenten season, we can implement humble prayer into our lives and try and be more like the Tax Collector by thinking about how we act or influence others when nobody is watching. I learned from my dad that it is honorable to think of being a ‘quiet professional’. This means that no matter what incredible or kind deeds we may carry out, the only person who needs to see them is the Lord and he does so already, so there is no need to boast or exclaim your achievements, but rather humbly carry out your duties. Recognizing what we should say, rather than acknowledging what the Lord already knows of you. In conclusion, or should I say “beginning” of this Lenten season, I think we should all try and remember the true meaning of our actions, understanding that when we speak about them, they can be drowned out by our assuming words. Let’s all try and discuss our sins and exalt ourselves the next time we pray, and hopefully, in doing so, we may continue to grow closer with God and strengthen our faith. Personally, I am going to try and keep it simple when I pray, trusting that God already knows what is best, so there is no need for me to justify or highlight my successes, but rather come before Him with raw and vulnerable feelings that He embraces.
• Carina Cooke Grade 11
Fourth Sunday March 22 Ephesians 5:8-14 John 9:1-41 Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He told them this parable, saying, “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate. One of the most frustrating moments for a teacher is when a kid just does not want to put in the effort to learn. It is not a matter of “cannot” but rather a matter of “will not.” That’s one of the things that came to mind when reading the Gospel of John. Even with the proof in front of them that this prophet can heal people, can perform miracles, the people are unwilling to accept Jesus as their savior. Students will come to class, will sit in the room day to day, but will still not learn some of the most basic and important lessons that books try to teach us because they will not open their minds. It is a worthy goal to seek knowledge and understanding, but in order to come to a complete understanding of the world you have to be able to accept the challenges to your past beliefs. In English class, your long held ideas and beliefs may be challenged and explored, but if you are unable to accept what you do not understand, you will remain forever blind. There are students, and people in general, who are so certain that they are right and that their worldview is correct and final and permanent. I cannot help but look at those people and wonder why they want to remain blind. The leaders of the synagogue disliked the challenge to their accepted truths and yet they were afraid of remaining blind, much like those who look at our world today and cannot see past their own views.
• Carlin Heinle English Department
Monday March 23 Isaiah 65:17-21 John 4:43-54 After the two days He went forth from there into Galilee. For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things that He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they themselves also went to the feast. Therefore He came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a royal official whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and was imploring Him to come down and heal his son; for he was at the point of death. So Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.” The royal official said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son lives.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off. As he was now going down, his slaves met him, saying that his son was living. So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better. Then they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives”; and he himself believed and his whole household. This is again a second sign that Jesus performed when He had come out of Judea into Galilee. In the beginning of this passage it speaks about Jesus’s return to Galilee. It mentions that the Galileans welcomed him because they had seen the miracle that Jesus performed at Jerusalem. When Jesus arrived in Cana, Galilee, there was word that the son of a royal official was sick. This royal official sought out Jesus and asked him to go with him to his house and heal his son. Jesus had responded to this by saying, (4:48) “‘Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.’” The official begged Jesus asking him to heal his son before he dies. Jesus simple told him, (4:50) “‘You may go; your son will life.’” The man believed in what Jesus said and returned to his home. One of his servants stopped him on his way and told him that his son was healed. The official knew that the time his son was healed was the same time that Jesus had said that his son would be saved. This passage is a wonderful example of the common theme in our society that seeing is believing. As Jesus said the only time that people believe is when they see something extraordinary for which there is no other explanation. When Jesus had only told the man that he would heal his son, the man continued to believe in Jesus. Our faith does not rely on seeing but on our trust in God, who has given us so much. This faith in Jesus helped his son to be healed. We should not only pray to God in times of desperation and expect a miracle, but in all times to thank God for everything that he has given us.
• Emily Crabbe Grade 9
Tuesday March 24 Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12 John 5:1-16 After these things there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered, [waiting for the moving of the waters; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.] A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk. Now it was the Sabbath on that day. So the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.” But he answered them, “He who made me well was the one who said to me, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Pick up your pallet and walk’?” But the man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.” The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. John’s message of this miracle is also a message of seeking change through Christ. Jesus went to the pool where there was a large number of invalids waiting for assistance or healing. This man had been in this condition for 38 years, helpless and unable to remedy his own situation. But had he also become complacent or static in his life? It is interesting that Jesus asks him, “Do you wish to get well?” and the man didn’t answer “Of course, Yes”!! He answered with a reason why he could not be healed. This gives us insight into our lives, are we static or comfortable in our current condition, even when we know that there are things that should change. Do we make excuses for not changing? Sometimes there is an attitude in life that if this certain event happens then my life will be better, I will be better. It almost gives us an excuse not to seek change. The circumstances in our lives do affect us, but there is more than our reaction to these circumstances. Are we waiting for some event to change the course of our lives? Or are we seeking God’s plan to use our circumstances to change our lives. Are we finding excuses for why we don’t follow him or are we waiting for things to happen when we should be seeking God’s path for our lives. Jesus doesn’t walk the man to the water to heal him, he tells him to stand with his mat and walk. The man still has the reminder of his infirmity to carry with him but he is a new person. There’s nothing we can do to save ourselves but Jesus has the mercy and grace to rescue us, just as we are, and give us new life. In this spirit, I ask that you take some time to reflect on what drives your life. Are you waiting for certain circumstances to set your course or are you asking God to use your talents, gifts and infirmities to direct you. I pray that you may see clearly God’s plan for your life.
• Gail deFreitas Administrative Assistant, Counseling Department
Wednesday March 25 Isaiah 7:10-14; 8:10 Luke 1:26-38
Annunciation of the Lord Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And 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 the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. This is what started it all – Mary said ‘yes.’ I may be quoting Father Tom during his Feast of the Immaculate Conception homily, but I found his words simple, yet so profound and they have stuck with me. In this passage, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she was chosen by God; chosen to give birth to a son that will be Most Holy and will be the Savior for all of us. At first, she was troubled, but maybe more so because she was being visited by an angel, yet she was willing and accepted this with no resistance. It seemed so simple for her to acquiesce to this huge undertaking so faithfully, but think about what she was saying ‘yes’ to and what an enormous impact this would have on her life going forward. I know we all struggle with our faith at times; faith in God, faith in our families, faith in each other, and we question the ‘why.’ This seems normal as we are so often exposed to how much bad there is in this world. We must try to instead focus on the good, and while we may not always witness this good, know that it exists because we believe that God exists and that all things are possible with Him. During this time of Lent, may we focus more on remembering and reflecting on Jesus’ great sacrifice and have faith in God’s plan for us, because He does have a plan for each and every one of us, though we may not always see that right away. Faith and trust are not always easy, but the more we have faith and trust in God, the more likely we are to quiet the noise that surrounds us each day. Mary trusted and had faith that God had a plan for her and look how that turned out.
• Beth-Ellen Walsh Director of Student Counseling
Thursday March 26 Exodus 32:7-14 John 5:31-47 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is true. “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light. “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. “I do not accept glory from human beings, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” Every day we hear about the world’s problems: inequalities, financial crises, political struggles, religious disputes, etc. We ourselves face many issues and conflicts that divide us on personal levels. Ironically, the one thing that seems to unite all of humankind are the problems that divide us. These issues are burdensome and heavy. A Christian perspective on the reasons that these problems exist is that as sinners, we are all lost and blind. Many of us are not actively seeking and pursuing God and because of this we are straying away. This is allowing room for conflicts and aching. And what do we do to solve these problems? In many cases we are pursuing worldly solutions above the solutions that God gives us, which don’t always fix what we see as broken. What are these solutions? How can we be blessed in times where all we are confused and defeated? How can our burdens be lifted? We have to repent and ask God for forgiveness and mercy, and He will bless us and be there for us in our struggles. Psalm 32:1-5 says, “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin.” Throughout this lenten season, think about the struggles that you are facing. Give up your sins and troubles to God however you feel is best: prayer, confession, worship, etc. Remember that during Lent we are preparing for the Passion and Resurrection of Christ. Jesus’ purpose was to die in order to take away the burden of sin, so all we have to do is let Him take our burdens in order to feel lifted.
• Esther Joy Boyle Grade 12
Friday March 27 Wisdom 2:1a, 12-22 John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30 After these things Jesus was walking in Galilee, for He was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him. Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was near. But when His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself also went up, not publicly, but as if, in secret. So some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is this not the man whom they are seeking to kill? Look, He is speaking publicly, and they are saying nothing to Him. The rulers do not really know that this is the Christ, do they? However, we know where this man is from; but whenever the Christ may come, no one knows where He is from.” Then Jesus cried out in the temple, teaching and saying, “You both know Me and know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. I know Him, because I am from Him, and He sent Me.” So they were seeking to seize Him; and no man laid his hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come. John preaches that Jesus had very few fears. He went to Judea for a special feast, even when he was well aware that people from his own community wanted to kill him. Once he arrived, Jews were shocked that he would dare to go to the temple area so publicly with his life on the line. However, none of the people had the courage to lay a hand on Jesus and arrest him when they had the chance. Jesus was a very influential man who was starting to gain a large following. This most likely made the officials of Judea fearful of him because his popularity among the people. This raises the question: if these officials truly disagreed with Jesus’ teachings, or if they were just so scared of him that the only thing they could think to do was plot his death. This suggests that disbelievers of Jesus today might also really just be scared of him because he has such a large following, and people are scared of power. Jesus’ influence on his followers still remains today, which could explain why some people still claim to hate him. How can we better communicate that Jesus is about love?
• Sophia Vail Grade 9
Saturday March 28 Jeremiah 11:18-20 John 7:40-53 Moreover, the LORD made it known to me and I knew it; Then You showed me their deeds. But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter; And I did not know that they had devised plots against me, saying, “Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, And let us cut him off from the land of the living, That his name be remembered no more.” But, O LORD of hosts, who judges righteously, Who tries the feelings and the heart, Let me see Your vengeance on them, For to You have I committed my cause. This passage may seem to counter the standard image of God as kind, loving, and benevolent. The notion of a God taking vengeance might be unsettling. However, our Bible is rife with similar images of God; Nahum 1:2 reads “The LORD is a jealous and vengeful God; the LORD is vengeful and strong in wrath. The LORD is vengeful against his foes; he rages against his enemies.” If this is such a common description of God, how do we fit it into our Catholic viewpoint? It is important to remember that God is not jealous for jealousy’s sake. In this passage, Jeremiah is “a trusting lamb led to slaughter”: an innocent man under attack by those worshipping foreign gods. God is not taking action simply to exert God’s power; God is taking action to protect a prophet of the Lord and a member of the faith community. Indeed, this seemingly strange notion of a vengeful God becomes comforting when one thinks of it as a sign of how deeply God cares for each of God’s children, and how God is willing to protect any one of us when we are innocent lambs ensnared in the traps of enemies. This passage does not have to be taken literally, either. God may not directly strike down with a bolt of lightning the girl who is mean to you in your classes. Vengeance against enemies can come from one’s own success. In order to “rage against [our] enemies”, God helps us find security, comfort, and peace, therefore making us untouchable against the cruelty of the world and of others.
• Gina Petruzziello Grade 11 Theodicy – the attempt to comprehend and justify God’s actions in human affairs. In other words, it seeks to reconcile why bad things happen to the righteous, and visa versa, why the wicked seem to receive blessing. When and why does God intervene in history? Especially in regions riddled with evil and tragedy, we are compelled to ask where is God in all of this. As we read Jeremiah’s complaints, we probably relate! Jeremiah is all of us who struggle to comprehend the apparent absence of justice in the world, the propensity of greed and selfishness to corrupt our communities. This text, therefore, recognizes the inevitability for humans to raise such questions as a part of being human – questions that emerge quite acutely in those who have a deep relationship with God. Not only does the experience of God not protect us from such questions, but it may also compel us to ask them more sharply. Where do you see the Holy Spirit working in the world? How can you let the Holy Spirit work through you so that God’s justice may reign?
Fifth Sunday March 29 Ezekiel 37:12-14 John 11:1-45 Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken and done it,” declares the LORD.’” The unrealistic standards of perfection create farce notions in the youth. Implanting the social conditions of perfection thus leading to pressures and stereotypes that people feel they must conform to. With any sort of social imperfect, one could lead him or herself to self-doubt and lack in confidence. However, God reassures everyone of their perfection in Ezekiel 37. God brings Ezekiel to a place of despair, no life; He brings Ezekiel to the Valley of Dry Bones. As God and Ezekiel discuss their surroundings, God prophesized that the bones will rise again and form back into bodies, filled with life and breath. Such imagery parallels the modern-day. As we get the life and breath sucked out of us by conforming to unrealistic bodily perfection, God is here to reaffirm our doubts. Through reaffirmation, God offers our dry, dead bones the ability to feel alive again and empowered within our own perfect body, by our own personal set standards. Such standards do not need to be generalized; they need to fit each person uniquely. God continues on with this reviving idea by telling Ezekiel that He will raise us out of our graves, He “will put [His] Spirit within you and you will come to life” (Ezekiel 37). This metaphorical grave is one that social media and society’s perfection digs for us, thus yet again, showing how God is ready to show his support and raise up our perfect bodies. Finally, God calls Ezekiel to grab the stick of truth. The truth that sets Ezekiel free from this dead nature. This truth offers Ezekiel the light; thus, such truth can offer every person the light. The light to find perfection within his or herself. On a daily basis, a majority of people undergo a feeling of self-doubt in connection to their personal image. Such doubt could leave people feeling imperfect, or unworthy of his or herself. This epidemic needs to change. Such a change starts within us. By accepting our internal perfection, it becomes easier to access our external perfection. No matter of body type, physical defects or any minuscule imperfection, within God’s eyes we are perfect; thus, making us perfect in our eyes. The unrealistic standards that social norms force upon us, lead to false notions. But that is all they are, FALSE notions. Notions that need to be changed and need to be forgotten. Just as God tells Ezekiel that He will help all people, it is our duty to spread His word to help all people. I am going to leave you with a parting quote. Just as One Direction tells everyone, “Baby you’re perfect”, you best believe it! Body perfection is not a one-size fit all kind of shirt, rather it is a shirt that molds to each person individually making everyone feel confident and loved within his or her own skin.
• Elizabeth Viggiano Grade 12
Monday March 30 Daniel 13:1-9, 15-62 John 8:12-20 Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” So the Pharisees said to Him, “You are testifying about Yourself; Your testimony is not true.” Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I testify about Myself, My testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone. But even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent Me. Even in your law it has been written that the testimony of two men is true. I am He who testifies about Myself, and the Father who sent Me testifies about Me.” So they were saying to Him, “Where is Your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also.” These words He spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come. Lent is a season of self-reflection. One of the most popular forms of celebrating Lent comes in the form of sacrifice, whether through fasting or giving up one’s favorite sweet treat. Often times it is easy for us to judge others and their actions, without remembering our own flaws. This Lent, a good thing to give up may be our own hasty judgments towards others! In John 8, Jesus told the Pharisees who had brought the adulteress over to “cast the first stone” if they were “without sin.” Before we throw our own “stones,” let’s take time during this Lenten season to reflect on our weaknesses and how to improve upon those.
• Renata Lee Grade 12
Tuesday March 31 Numbers 21:4-9 John 8:21-30 Then He said again to them, “I go away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come.” So the Jews were saying, “Surely He will not kill Himself, will He, since He says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” And He was saying to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” So they were saying to Him, “Who are You?” Jesus said to them, “What have I been saying to you from the beginning? I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world.” They did not realize that He had been speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him. The Gospel of John calls upon the idea to question the importance of life. Some Jews said, “Is he going to kill himself?” In asking this question, it may become transparent that Jesus’ dying on the cross can actually be considered his taking his own life. Within the Catholic Church, we are called upon to imitate Christ and follow in his footsteps, yet the Church is opposed to the taking of one’s life. Jesus dying for others and sacrificing his life was an ultimate sign of love as he did it for our eternal life. One might think this action is an invitation for us to put ourselves in harm's way and yet Jesus died precisely so we can live. So we can live, be free and enjoy God’s creation. In our communities, so many young people are feeling abandoned and isolated. In this passage we are called to practice gratitude for what Jesus sacrificed as it dictates the importance of human life. God gave us life. God gave us our world. God gave us these things as he wants all of his children to live a life full of love and happiness. We must acknowledge this gift and cherish it as Jesus Christ suffered so we don’t have too. Life is sacred. Life is short. Life is a gift we were each all given by God.
• Lily Baker Grade 11
Wednesday April 1 Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95 John 8:31-42 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.” They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. You are doing the deeds of your father.” They said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. In this passage, John talks about how the truth will set you free. But what exactly is the truth? In my personal opinion, the truth is different for everyone. When most people hear the word truth, they think of actions such as honesty and being loyal to one another. To me, the truth is much more than that. My truth is to be honest even when honesty may not be exactly what my friend wants to hear. It is to stand up for what I believe in, whether or not others agree with me. My truth is to treat others with kindness regardless of how they may have treated me in the past. My personal truth is more of what I believe in. Part of the truth I believe in, is that the world we live in is not always going to be kind. We hear about topics such as death, crime, and incurable sickness, and on top of that, some people choose to not be kind to others. Some people let others treat them with disrespect. Once realizing the world is not going to be as kind as I once believed it was supposed to be, I realized my actions and my truth gives me the ability to bring kindness into the world. Once I discovered what I believe in and learned the reality of today’s society, I was able to control more of how people treat me and how I treat others. Recognizing my truth set me free in a way where I am able to make an impact on others lives by spreading kindness. I feel free to be who I want to be, knowing that I have others supporting me in the same way I support them. As you move through your day, your week, your month and the rest of your everyday life, think about what you believe in. Think about how each and every one of your actions impacts those around you. Recognize your truth and let it set you free.
• Kayla Stolarczuk Math Department
Thursday April 2 Genesis 17:3-9 John 8:51-59 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death.” The Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death.’ Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’; and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple. In this passage, religious leaders are questioning Jesus and the ability He has to conquer death. Jesus was being perceived as a human being, so the fact that He could claim that ability was completely outlandish. He knows who will and will not face death, and the Jews were in query on how this could be feasible. The Jews were questioning Jesus, curious about His claims, actions, abilities, and who Jesus actually was. No matter who you are and how strong your faith is, you will encounter questions regarding Jesus and the many layers of Christianity. Curiosity is always among us, and it is okay to ask questions, but us Christians must trust Jesus. The path is already set for us, we just have to let Him do His job. Everything happens for a reason, so at the end of the day we should trust His next move. We question the ways He works and how everything will turn out in the end, but He knows exactly what he’s doing. We may have tons of questions but they are always valid and will always be answered, just trust the process.
• Jordan Pinkava Grade 11
Friday April 3 Jeremiah 20:10-13 John 10:31-42 The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I SAID, YOU ARE GODS’? If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp. And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was first baptizing, and He was staying there. Many came to Him and were saying, “While John performed no sign, yet everything John said about this man was true.” Many believed in Him there. In John 10:31-42 a crowd of Jewish people were trying to stone Jesus and arrest him because they thought he was being blasphemous. I understand that back then the most used option of confronting someone was violence, but I think that this was unreasonable especially because Jesus was performing good works that He attributed to God, His Father. Jesus didn’t understand why they were trying to stone him or why they thought he was being blasphemous because he was doing many good works for them. They seemed very ungrateful for the good works that Jesus had done for them. The Jews said that Jesus was calling himself God and that was why they believed he was being blasphemous, but Jesus reminded them that the Bible, their Bible, our Bible, calls us ‘gods.’ In their scripture, is it not written that the Son of God will come down and lead them back to a better path? The Jews did not listen to Jesus and tried to arrest him, but he escaped. Jesus then went to where John was baptized and people came to him and started to believe that everything John said about Jesus was true. I think that some Jewish people were really focused on one aspect of their tradition, while Jesus was opening and expanding upon a different aspect of their shared tradition. While each party felt that the others’ arguments were unreasonable, Jesus was giving very solid reasons why he is the Son of God.
• Lily Voorhees Grade 9
Saturday April 4 Ezekiel 37:21-28 John 11:45-56 Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus had done. Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they planned together to kill Him. Therefore Jesus no longer continued to walk publicly among the Jews, but went away from there to the country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim; and there He stayed with the disciples. Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the Passover to purify themselves. So they were seeking for Jesus, and were saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think; that He will not come to the feast at all?”
“...Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all! You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.’” John retells the story regarding the week before Jesus’ death, reminding us of the immense sacrifice Jesus made for our own salvation. While Caiaphas was generally speaking about saving the Jewish nation from the Romans, his statement is most appropriate to the forthcoming crucifixion. Jesus’ death and resurrection was for “the people '' and because of this, the “whole nation” would not have been absolved from sin. During Lent, it is important to reflect on the true meaning of Jesus’ Passion, being God’s divine plan to save us from these sins. With this in mind, we can express our gratitude for Jesus’ sacrifice, and in turn, make our own sacrifices. Let this last week of Lent be one in which we continue to fulfill personal Lenten sacrifices, or simply reflect on Jesus’ love for us.
• Graceanna Gargano Grade 12
Palm Sunday April 5 Isaiah 50:4-7 Philippians 2:6-11 Matthew 21:1-11 When they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “SAY TO THE DAUGHTER OF ZION, ‘BEHOLD YOUR KING IS COMING TO YOU, GENTLE, AND MOUNTED ON A DONKEY, EVEN ON A COLT, THE FOAL OF A BEAST OF BURDEN.’” The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them, and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their coats on them; and He sat on the coats. Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road. The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!” When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.” Christ’s Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem was a celebration of Christ’s messianic event, through which His Divine authority is declared. Jesus traveled through many towns performing miracles, healing the sick, and teaching people about the kingdom of God. Many who had heard Christ preach and believed in Him as Lord came to worship him. One day prior, Jesus raised his beloved friend Lazarus from the dead and people witnessed this miracle and Christ’s authentic love and sadness for the dead of Lazarus. As you can imagine crowds of people and children came out to see the Messiah, laying down their coats, clothes, possessions and tree branches on the road and crying out, “Hosanna. Blessed are You for You come to save the world.” Christ entered Jerusalem as a humble and peaceful leader. He was not draped in gold and riding a horse; His garments were meek, and He entered Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt. Jesus was also aware of the betrayal and humiliation to follow by nightfall and the week in preparation for the Passion. During the events of Palm Sunday and Holy Week, I am reminded as to how much God loves us, and how much I want to live my life as a Christian and closer to God. I am called to be an active participant in the celebration welcoming Jesus Christ into my heart and soul, surrendering my modern-day possessions for Him to trample on. It is that simple, but can I let go of those possessions, my control, my ego, my material things, my righteousness, etc.? I have tears in my eyes and an overwhelming pain in my chest as I recall that Jesus was humiliated, stripped naked, brutally beaten, forsaken by his disciples and crucified on the cross for me and my sins. This is simple…this is LOVE. GOD is LOVEΟ Θεός είναι Aγάπη. “God sent His only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to redeem the world through His Cross, His burial and His Resurrection.”
• Helen Kotoulas Business Administrator
Monday of Holy Week April 6 Isaiah 42:1-7 “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. “He will not cry out or raise His voice, Nor make His voice heard in the street. “A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. “He will not be disheartened or crushed until He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.” Thus says God the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and its offspring, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it, “I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, and I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon and those who dwell in darkness from the prison. The opening lines of Isaiah Chapter 42 describe a particular “servant of the Lord”: one who brings justice, stays faithful, and speaks in serenity. God, especially in this Lenten season, calls us to be exactly like this servant. Specifically, God calls us to “establish justice on earth,” a task that can seem daunting, and almost impossible, to any human. However, God will never give us more than we can handle, so we must not be scared away by such a calling. In being faithful servants of the Lord, we as Christians must fight for the weak ones, and speak out for the freedom of all people. We must aim to provide shelter for the homeless, food for the poor, and company for the lonely. Finally, we must take time for our brothers and sisters, and let them know they are worthy and loved. Check up on your friends, check up on people you have lost touch with, check up on people you might not normally speak with. It is so vital to partake in one or more of these acts of justice, especially during this time of Lent, a time in which we remember the great sacrifice the Lord made to bring justice to the world.
• Lauren Iskander Grade 11 John 12:1-11 Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it. Therefore Jesus said, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.” The large crowd of the Jews then learned that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead. But the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death also; because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and were believing in Jesus.
Tuesday of Holy Week April 7 Isaiah 49:1-6 John 13:21-33, 36-38 When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me.” The disciples began looking at one another, at a loss to know of which one He was speaking. There was reclining on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. So Simon Peter gestured to him, and said to him, “Tell us who it is of whom He is speaking.” He, leaning back thus on Jesus’ bosom, said to Him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus then answered, “That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.” So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” Now no one of those reclining at the table knew for what purpose He had said this to him. For some were supposing, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus was saying to him, “Buy the things we have need of for the feast”; or else, that he should give something to the poor. So after receiving the morsel he went out immediately; and it was night. In John's passage, he talks about Judas' betrayal of Jesus. The part of this passage I found most important was not the betrayal by Judas, but rather how Jesus reacts to his betrayal. In life, it is inevitable that we will face hardships with our friends, people may betray us, but it is up to us how we react to it. We should aim to exemplify Jesus in every aspect of our lives. Jesus knew Judas was about to do and forgave him for it. It is important to forgive others when they wrong us, maybe not necessarily for them but for ourselves. We must share that same unconditional love with each other that Jesus shared with his disciples. It is also important to focus on how Jesus unconditionally loves us and no matter what we do, and living our lives loving unconditionally will make life easier. Everyday we are tempted to stray away from God’s love. We challenged ourselves on a daily basis to stay on the right path and listen to what God has taught us. It is especially hard in high school as you are changing friend groups, learning about becoming yourself, trying new things and moving on from old. It is a constant challenge to not get bogged down by the little things and focus on the greater picture. Jesus does not let the betrayal of one disciple take him off his entire life course. Actually, this specific betrayal allowed for Jesus to accomplish his life’s mission. You should not let a small thing take you completely off of your path. Ultimately living your life and loving others unconditionally will lead to a better life, as Jesus would do.
• Sara Vukas Science Department
Wednesday of Holy Week April 8 Isaiah 50:4-9a Matthew 26:14-25 The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples, That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple. The Lord GOD has opened My ear; and I was not disobedient nor did I turn back. I gave My back to those who strike Me, and My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting. For the Lord GOD helps Me, therefore, I am not disgraced; Therefore, I have set My face like flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed. He who vindicates Me is near; who will contend with Me? Let us stand up to each other; who has a case against Me? Let him draw near to Me. Behold, the Lord GOD helps Me; Who is he who condemns Me? Behold, they will all wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them. God is always communicating with us - making divinity known through signs via nature, our peers, and our intuition. During this Lenten season, it is important to not only live out God’s message, but to spread it. Isaiah 50:4 teaches that “The Lord God has given [us] the tongue of disciples,” and he “awakens [our] ear[s] to listen as [His] disciple[s].” It is never difficult to listen to God, so long as we open ourselves to this opportunity. Yet, as high school students, we may sometimes find it difficult to act on what God is telling us. Unfortunately, not everyone who we encounter is willing to open their hearts to God’s message. We may find ourselves being bullied, shamed, or hurt while trying to live out our faith. God calls us to follow faithfully in these instances, and to not counter with hatred. So long as we trust in God, “[We are] not disgraced . . . And [we] know that [we] will not be ashamed.” Afterall, “The Lord God helps [us].” At certain times we may find ourselves feeling hopeless, embarrassed, and disappointed in the way that some people treat us and others. Instead of taking on that darkness and hate, turn to God – the Spirit can help. Use these times as opportunities to use your “tongue of disciples” and spread more love, as God would have wanted. Listen to God in these times of doubt and sadness, because God will always be there to give us strength.
• Ashley Garrett Grade 12
Maundy Thursday April 9 Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14 John 13:1-15 Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, “Not all of you are clean.” So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Reflecting on the Gospel of John – the word subservient comes to mind. If you have been to church for the mass on Holy or Maundy Thursday, you have witnessed priests washing the feet of the congregants. Perhaps you have taken part in this important ritual in the Triduum of Holy Week. Think about what the washing of one’s feet symbolizes: subservience, obedience, care, submission, status. So, why did Jesus wash the feet of his disciples before the Last Supper? Why did Jesus allow himself to be subservient? After all, wasn’t He the Lord, the Messiah, the Savior? According to John, Jesus says, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” We, too, should work to understand the profound message in John and in Holy Thursday. Consider the love in this passage. Jesus knew that he would be betrayed, but with great love, he insisted on teaching the disciples that in his absence, they must , “do for others as I have done for you.” Thus, the mystery is revealed in the lines: “Do you understand what
I have done for you? You call me Teacher and Lord and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” Of course, the washing of the feet is symbolic of any act of kindness, service, or support. We are here to help one another, to support one another, to love one another without regard for status or personal or monetary gain or satisfaction. Helping each other for the pure sake of helping one another is the message we take with us this Easter. During Lent we are asked to reexamine our faith and make conscious decisions about how we live the Gospel. How do we use the Gospel to shape our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors? Consider the Gospel of John. Attend Holy Thursday mass at your church with a deeper understanding of what it means to be truly present for someone else and their needs and do for others as they have done for you. Return every kindness you are given. That is what Jesus asks of all of us.
• Lynn Burek Principal
Good Friday April10 Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12 John 18:1 – 19:42 Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; and they began to come up to Him and say, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and to give Him slaps in the face. Pilate came out again and said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in Him.” Jesus then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold, the Man!” So when the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out saying, “Crucify, crucify!” Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.”
UNIVERSAL SUFFERING Just before Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilot, the mob yelled, “Crucify Him!” For the crowd, Jesus was flatly labeled as a threat to the spiritual community. I can’t help but think of all the many lessons we’ve learned, and perhaps not learned, when we are engaged in dualistic thinking. Us vs. them, good vs. bad, holiness vs. evil, Jew vs. Gentile, etc. In many historical atrocities, humans cause so much suffering, inflicting pain that often lasts for generations. Often, the intolerance for diversity stems from misunderstandings about dualism. Duality doesn’t always mean contrasting results or opposites; it is often complimentary and related. This means we can’t have life without death or love with our loss. It’s all a balance and shared experience. The collective experience of suffering isn’t a dualistic or individual problem. Universal suffering affects all of humanity. The collective consciousness bears the pain and suffering together. It cannot be separated into segments of people or individual experiences. When Jesus died on the cross, with love for us, He knew there was meaning in His suffering. His believers hoped there was a meaning in His death but that doesn’t mitigate the pain He experienced as well as the pain experienced by all those who loved Him. It was a sacrifice and display of true love only demonstrable for us and with us by Jesus. It is up to us, His ancestors, to love one another, reduce suffering, display empathy and offer forgiveness so that His sacrifice and its meaning stays true in everlasting life. And so, in our small, close knit school, when one of us is suffering, we are all suffering as a community. There is no amount of suffering that is a singular experience even when it feels alone and isolating. That is the universal non-dualistic truth. When we experience pain, hardships or loss such as death, dignity or independence we are each given the opportunity to find meaning in each other’s suffering because it creates a space of belonging. It comes from our ability to bear a proverbial cross for each other so that one person doesn’t have to experience it alone. The hope, light and love we share between us is what matters. When suffering is shared, it becomes divided. When it’s divided it becomes something that we are all responsible for with each other. We don’t ignore each other’s needs emotionally, physically and spiritually. We work together to find meaning in our experience and strive to show to each other light, love and hope each and every day.
• Megan Knight Director of Development & Alumnae Relations
Holy Saturday April 11 Romans 6:3-11 Matthew 28:1-10 Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.” And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.” During Lent, Jesus reminds us that we are not alone in our modern day struggles. Good Friday allows us to reflect on the sacrifice of our Lord, and that it’s always darkest during our deepest struggles. Holy Saturday is the time where we are sad and contemplative, but we know there is a silver lining to our despair. As faithful Catholics, we know that there is always hope, and any beacon of light is a symbol of Jesus’s resurrection. The disciples, our Blessed Mother Mary & Mary Magdalene, did not understand that Jesus would rise again on Easter Sunday, just as we sometimes forget while we are in a crisis that we need to have faith in Jesus to help us through & rise past our own struggles. During these struggles, we sometimes lose our way & forget that there can’t be light without darkness. During this Lenten season, it is critical to remember that in order for us to be better humans & Christians, we must struggle through darkness to get to the light of Jesus. In this modern day world, our faith in Jesus is continually tested just like the faith of the disciples, Mary & Mary Magdalene was tested at the tomb.
• Jean Jackson Director of Admissions
Easter Sunday April 12 Acts 10:34a, 37-43 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 Matthew 28:1-19 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. This passage from 1 Corinthians provides an opportunity to reflect on how much Jesus truly sacrificed when he gave his life for us – an opportunity to reflect on how God saved his people from sin – an opportunity to reflect on how we can remove sin from our lives. In 1 Corinthians, an analogy is made explaining the necessity of yeast in order to leaven bread. “Just a small amount is enough to leaven an entire batch of dough.” When it is time to make a new batch, new yeast is needed and this new batch of dough is seen as a “clean slate”. Through a complex series of chemical reactions during baking, yeast ferments the sugar in the dough causing the bread to rise. There is so much that can be taken away from this analogy, most prominently, the rising of Jesus during the resurrection. He ascended into Heaven to give us life and our own “clean slate” from sin. How does one even begin to comprehend the suffering that Jesus endured and what he gave up for us? Jesus rose up against those who crucified him through forgiveness. How often do we take for granted or lose sight of the power of forgiveness? “Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch – as you really are.” What powerful words when you stop to contemplate and appreciate their meaning. We are all human, we all make mistakes, we have all sinned, we have all wronged someone at some point in our lives. But Jesus has given us all the ability to “rise” up against our wrongdoings and be forgiven for our mistakes. Forgiveness can come from doing better the next time we are faced with a challenging and difficult situation. Forgiveness can come from recognizing one’s mistakes, learning from them, and moving past them. Forgiveness can come from being kind and just to others and helping those in need. “A small amount of yeast is enough to leaven an entire batch of dough,” just as a small amount of kindness and forgiveness is enough to make an important difference in your daily life, in our school community, and in this world. Easter Sunday marks the end of our Lenten journey, but don’t let that be the end of our sacrifices to better ourselves and those around us. Continue to find that small amount of yeast inside of you and use it to rise up against the daily stresses, challenges, and struggles of life.
• Lauren Corvo Assistant Principal
Academy of Saint Elizabeth students, staff and faculty share Lenten reflections.