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Prayers and Reflections for Lent February 13 – March 31, 2013 Written by the Toledo Area Vocation Directors Women religious ministering in and around the Diocese of Toledo

Sister Marilyn Marie Ellerbrock, SND Sisters of Notre Dame

Sister Julie Myers, OSF/S Sisters of St. Francis, Sylvania

Sister Durstyne Farnan, OP Adrian Dominican Sisters

Sister Margaret Manion, OSU Ursuline Sisters

Sister Barbara Jean Miller, OSF/T Tiffin Franciscan Sisters

Sister Amy Junk, CPPS Sisters of the Precious Blood

Sister Rose Marie Golembiewski, RSM Sisters of Mercy

Sister Cecelia Mary Sartorius, lsp Little Sisters of the Poor

Right Here, Right Now Sunday, March 3, 2013 Third Sunday of Lent “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground” Exodus 3: 3

HOW OFTEN WE WISH we were somewhere else or had other talents or knew other people or…. I’ve grown up hearing the adage: “The grass is always greener on the other side,” and in many ways it has subconsciously become part of my belief system. It seems at times that I’ll do pretty much anything to escape the present moment in the present place with my present circumstances. And yet, this is precisely where and how God calls me! Just as God reminded Moses that the place where he was standing was holy ground, he reminds me that it is right here and now that I am called to encounter Him. It is who I am with the particular talents and abilities I have that God desires to use in bringing about His kingdom. I need only to allow Him to work in and through me. Perhaps as I take my shoes off tonight I will remember that I am on holy ground. What better place could I be! Sister Marilyn Marie Ellerbrock, SND Sisters of Notre Dame Toledo, Ohio

Exodus 3: 1-8a, 13-15;

Psalm 103: 1-4, 6-8, 11;

1 Corinthians 10: 1-6, 10-12;

Luke 13: 1-9

Why Not? Monday, March 4, 2013 St. Casimir GOD GRACIOUSLY HEALS, as today’s first reading reminds us, but it is not always through extraordinary ways. It can be as simple as asking us to let go of our anger or disappointments. During Lent we are asked to repent and believe… “Remember man you are dust and unto dust you shall return.” Through the gift and blessing of today, seek forgiveness, remember the cleansing waters of baptism and trust that God will restore your spiritual growth. Why not do it? Do you look for God’s holy hand only in the extraordinary events of life or do you trust that God will work through the ordinary happenings?

Sister Margaret Manion, OSU Ursuline Sisters Toledo, Ohio

2 Kings 5: 1-15;

Psalm 42: 2-3, 43: 3-4;

Luke 4: 24-30

Freedom to Love Tuesday, March 5, 2013 Lenten Weekday Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?

Matthew 18: 21

MATTHEW’S QUESTION INVITED JESUS to give one of his most difficult, but most powerful teachings. According to Jesus the key to happiness in life is the ability to forgive those who hurt us, even those who have hurt us many times. The surprising thing about this teaching is that forgiveness is not so much a gift we give to others, but a gift we give ourselves. When we are able to forgive and forget injuries, we open our hearts to receive and give love. Yet, this is a very difficult thing to do. Sometimes the most we can do in trying to forgive another is to ask for the grace to want to forgive them. It sometimes takes a long time to actually forgive them. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit can this be done. Jesus gave us a beautiful example of this when on the cross he said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” His ability to forgive right away shows how powerful was his union with the Father. We may experience that this is not humanly possible for us, but with the help of the Holy Spirit we can learn to let go of hurts and be freed to receive and give love. Can you recall a time in your life when you found it hard to forgive someone? What helped you to be able to forgive and forget?

Sister Carolyn Brink, RSM Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

Daniel 3: 25, 34-43;

Psalm 25: 4-5ab, 6, 7bc, 8-9;

Matthew 18: 21-35

The Law of Love Wednesday March 6, 2013 Lenten Weekday Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfill. Matthew 5: 17

AT FIRST GLANCE this scripture seems difficult to grasp. What does Jesus mean that he came to not abolish the law, but fulfill it? Jesus is reminding us of the two greatest commandments: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind; the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Well this is definitely not what the Pharisees and others wanted to hear. Jesus shows us that he is the fulfillment of the law. He is Love. Recall for yourself some of the beautiful Gospel stories: the blind man of Jericho, or the ten lepers, the prodigal son, or the woman and the Pharisees. In each of these stories, Jesus does not judge or let the other be judged. But through love and forgiveness he brings the individual into the community once again and the person is healed. These stories demonstrate for us how Jesus fulfilled the law of love. May our Lenten practices deepen our personal relationship with Jesus who is love. This Lent, how will you become a more loving person? What do you need to do to fulfill with the great commandments? Sister Durstyne Farnan, OP Dominican Sisters of Adrian Adrian, Michigan

Deuteronomy 4: 1, 5-9

Psalm 147: 12-13, 15-16, 19-20

Matthew 5: 17-19

Pliable Hearts Thursday, March 7, 2013 St. Perpetua & St. Felicity “If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts.” Psalm 95

MOST OF US DON’T WANT TO BELIEVE that we can harden our hearts to God’s voice. Our deepest desire is to listen and to follow in God’s ways. After all, Scripture insures us that God has planted the law of love in our hearts. Another truth from Genesis is that, as humans, we don’t always choose God’s ways. It can be hard to take responsibility for misjudgments made on our part or a bias toward another who holds a different point of view. It is difficult to see my part in a conflict even when I didn’t start it. It is challenging to forgive, especially when the other hasn’t asked for it. At times it is easy to ignore the needs of others when I am so focused on my own tasks. Yet, when we turn to the example of Jesus Christ that are found in the Scripture, we may be graced to see the darkened or hardened areas of our life where we haven’t heard the voice of Love calling us. Where am I hearing God’s voice today so as not to harden my heart? Sister Barbara Jean Miller, OSF/T Sisters of St. Francis Tiffin, Ohio

Jeremiah 7: 23-28;

Psalm 95: 1-2, 6-9;

Luke 11: 14-23

Live the Answers Friday, March 8, 2013 St. John of God “One of the scribes came up to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied: “This is the first: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! Therefore you must…’” Mark 12: 28-29

“EXCELLENT, TEACHER!!” the Scribe said, “Yes, to love God with all our heart, with all our thoughts and with all our strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves is worth more than any burnt offering or sacrifice.” The scribe here had great courage to ask Jesus this question because no one else did within this conversation and lesson. Asking questions is a good thing, but we must discern why we ask them. Is it out of love, is it to understand and comprehend, or is it to trip up another so that we look good or smart or better? What is it that truly motivates our questions? Do we question our God for the sake of an answer or for the sake of the question itself? Lent calls us to reflect upon ourselves and our current place and status in life. It also calls us to reflect upon our relationship with God. How is that developing? We must ask ourselves a question or two from time to time, such as: “who do I live for? Why do I show kindness to another? What is it that gets me out of bed in the morning? Is it simply for myself or is it for love of the Lord God who is Lord alone?” We can do many great things with our heart, with our thoughts, and with our strength and carry out many good deeds for our neighbor, but if it is not done out of love for God—it will fall short, very short of an act of holiness. Today, instead of asking questions, think about how you can live the answers with “all your heart, with all your thoughts and with all your strength…and love your neighbor as yourself”. May you find God in your midst smiling back at you out of love! Sister Julie Myers, OSF/S Sisters of St. Francis Sylvania, Ohio

Hosea 14: 2-10;

Psalm 81: 6c-11b, 14, 17;

Mark 12: 28-34

Everyone Who Exalts Himself Saturday, March 9, 2013 St. Frances of Rome O God, be merciful to me, a sinner. Luke 18: 13

“O GOD, BE MERCIFUL TO ME, a sinner.” These are the words spoken by the humble man in today’s Gospel. Jesus told this story so that a lesson would be learned on what to do and how not to judge others. God turns from the proud but showers graces upon the humble. During this Lenten season we are asked to examine our relationship with God and our attitude toward prayer. The tax collectors were shunned by the people. Here we see the Pharisee who represented those who took pride in their religious practices. It was a sense of self-satisfaction. Then we observe the tax collector who humbled himself before God and begged for mercy. This story gives us the opportunity and a warning. Pride will lead us in the wrong direction. If we are open and humble grace will be given. We must come to know and recognize what sinners we are and that our God is merciful and forgiving. Judge not. It is mercy God asks for. PRAYER: Lord, I come before you asking to lead me in the right direction as I continue my journey with you to Jerusalem. Sister Rose Marie Golembiewski, R.S.M. Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Toledo, Ohio

Hosea 6: 1-6;

Psalm 51: 3-4, 18-21;

Luke: 18: 9-14

Miracles… Illuminate our Hearts with the Splendor of Your Grace Sunday, March 10, 2013 Fourth Sunday of Lent On that same day after the Passover, on which they ate of the produce of the land, the manna ceased. Joshua 5: 12 THE MANNA CEASED. Miracles always seem to happen at a different time, in a different place, to someone else. Certainly not to me, whose life is so humdrum. I trudge along doing my best, wishing for some feedback. Did I do the right thing, say the right words? Am I praying for the proper things? What does God really want of me? Is anybody listening? Hungry for just a little manna, I receive a great emptiness. The wasteful son must have experienced a time of manna—an endless supply of wine, women, and song, but then came the famine. Ah, and that is when his thoughts turned to his true home. Was it an ending of miracles or perhaps a beginning of grace? There just might be reasons for the ordinariness of life. In a time of no miracles, when faith is all I have, I throw myself into the arms of my father. Those absent miracles? I once heard these words from a dying friend (who had just refused an offered healing service): “If I focus on the hope of some future miracle, I might miss the miracle that is now.” So what, exactly, am I wishing for? Something beyond what happens daily on the altar, the birth of a niece, this morning’s limpid sunrise, friendship, something more than “now”? Illuminate our hearts, we pray, with the splendor of your grace, that we may always ponder what is worthy and pleasing to your majesty and love you in all sincerity. [Prayer after Communion]

Sister Paula Gero, CPPS Sisters of the Precious Blood Dayton, Ohio

Joshua 5: 9a, 10-12;

Psalm 34: 2-7;

2 Corinthians 5: 17-21;

Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

I Can Only Imagine Monday, March 11, 2013 Lenten Weekday “Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth” Isaiah 65: 17

I CAN ONLY IMAGINE are words I hear in songs and exclamations when events stretch me beyond my usual belief system. Both Isaiah and John place before me contrasting worlds: one is a realistic portrayal of a world that is marked by weeping, illness and death; the other is transformed and recreated by the power and joy of God’s abundant goodness. The royal official in the Gospel certainly knew the tragedy of watching his son suffer. He, however, was unsatisfied with allowing things to remain as they were. He begged Jesus to create something new. There’s no doubt that evil exists in our world, and I can become discouraged when it seems that suffering and destruction have the upper hand. The challenge for me is to trust that things can be different – that God can make them different – if I believe in Him. Unless I’m willing to believe things can change and willing to be part of the change, things will remain as they are. Go ahead and imagine something different and better – and beg God to make it so! Sister Marilyn Marie Ellerbrock, SND Sisters of Notre Dame Toledo, Ohio

Isaiah 65: 17-21;

Psalm 30: 2, 4-6, 11-12a, 13b;

John 4: 43-54

Blaming Others Tuesday, March 12, 2013 Lenten Weekday Do you want to be healed? Sir, the sick man answered, I don’t have anyone to plunge me into the pool once the water has been stirred up. John 5: 6-7

We are often blind to our own faults and shortcomings. It is so easy to place the blame on someone or something else. Are we honest enough to be responsible for our own behaviors and choices? If you find yourself blaming others, you may be running from your responsibilities. You can escape for awhile, but will you really be happy? Do you want to be healed and internally transformed? What is your response as Jesus commands you to “Stand up! Pick up your mat and walk!”

Sister Margaret Manion, OSU Ursuline Sisters Toledo, Ohio

Ezekiel 47: 1-9, 12;

Psalm 46: 2-3, 5-6, 8-9;

John 5: 1-16

Seeking God’s Will Wednesday, March 13, 2013 Lenten Weekday I do not seek my own will, but the will of the one who sent me. John 5: 30

JESUS TELLS US that in all that he does he seeks to follow not his own will, but the will of his Father. As we seek to follow Jesus, it is important for us, too, to seek God’s will for us, but we often find it hard to know just what that means. If we listen to God in prayer, we will learn that God’s will for each of us is that we find happiness. This happiness comes to us as we become more and more open to God’s love in our lives. As we make choices in life, we can ask ourselves, “will this choice help me to be filled with God’s love or not?” These may be important choices such as what walk of life we choose, or they may be small choices about how we will spend our free time today. This time of Lent is given to us to look deeply into our lives and to see how we can grow closer to God. This is a time to look at our choices to see if we are following God’s will for us. What choices do I need to make at this time? What choices will bring me closer to God? Sister Carolyn Brink, RSM Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Toledo, Ohio

Isaiah 49: 8-15;

Psalm 145: 8-9, 13-14, 17-18;

John 5: 17-30

Believe My Words

Thursday, March 14, 2013 Lenten Weekday "If you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?" John 5: 47

JESUS QUESTIONS whether we believe in him or not. And he states that if we believe Moses then we will believe in him. Jesus says that it is his Father who testifies on his behalf. Have you ever needed witnesses to say that you are a good person? Have you ever needed someone to testify that you are a person of truth? Have you ever had to be a witness for someone about his or her good deeds or truth? This season of Lent allows us to take time to plunge into the depth of the Word of God so that you may grow to know Jesus and bear witness to him. Who are some of the witnesses in your life that have pointed to Jesus as the Christ?

Sister Durstyne Farnan, OP Dominican Sisters of Adrian Adrian, Michigan

Exodus 32: 7-14;

Psalm 106: 19-23;

John 5: 31-47

Deliverance? Friday, March 15, 2013 Lenten Weekday “For if the just one be the son of God, God will defend him and deliver him from the hands of his foes.”

Wisdom 2: 18

HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT HOW GOD has revealed our deliverance from the hands of our foes? We only need to look to the Holy Week celebration that our Catholic Faith provides for us. From the foe of self-centeredness, we are invited to the selfless love of washing others’ feet at Holy Thursday Mass. We listen to the Suffering Servant readings on Good Friday from Isaiah 53:7, “Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth.” St. John tells us that there is no greater love than this. To take in such a foe as hatred and to transform it into goodness is a deliverance from a violent cycle of life. These readings invite us to face our own struggle as individuals or as groups of people to question the old law of an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth. Jesus totally transformed the subject of foe for us. This does not mean there are not some real foes. We need to address an abusive situation. One of the by-products of a transformed foe in Christ is inner Peace. What grace of deliverance can you name? Sister Barbara Jean Miller OSF/T Sisters of St. Francis Tiffin, Ohio

Wisdom 2: 1,12-22;

Psalm 34: 17-21,23;

John 7: 1-2, 10, 25-30

What Does the Face of God Look Like? Saturday, March 16, 2013 Lenten Weekday Some of the crowd who heard these words of Jesus said, “This is truly the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But others said, “The Christ will not come from Galilee, will he?” John 7: 40

DO YOU HAVE A PRECONCEIVED NOTION of who God is? If you had to describe God, what words would you use? If you had to draw a picture of God, what shapes and colors and form would you give your drawing? If you met God on the street, how would you know it was God? If you were in a conversation with two people and one said that she saw God within you and within your actions, and the other said that there is no way God is a part of your life or actions—does God fail to exist within you? We can build up the goodness of people and we can destroy their very person. We can choose to see Christ in the face, presence, and efforts of those we live, work, or interact with daily, or we can choose to limit who God is or how God is expressed in the life of another. We have that ability in our lives; we can make that choice in our response to them. God exists in each and every person because God created us in his likeness and image—God created us out of love. By our lives, we give uniqueness to the face, presence and works of God in daily life. If we really want to know God, we need only to get to know our neighbor, no matter where this person is from. Today, choose one or two persons you do not know and try to strike up a conversation with them. As you look into their eyes, as you see the form and structure of their face, as you experience their personality, how do you recognize God in them?

Sister Julie Myers, OSF/S Sisters of St. Francis Sylvania, Ohio

Jeremiah 11: 18-20;

Psalm 7: 2-3, 9-12;

John 7: 40-53

Lenten Reflections  

Called like Francis of Assisi to live the Gospel in joyful servanthood among all people, the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio, as me...