Category Archives: Lent Reflection

Daily Gospel Reflection for March 27, 2016 – Easter Sunday

Today’s Gospel: John 20, 1-9 – Easter Sunday

I’m amused by the words that Luke chooses to announce that Jesus—who had been crucified and buried—suddenly joined two disciples on their journey. As Luke tells the story, the two were journeying to Emmaus, when, “it happened that … Jesus himself drew near and walked with them.” Excuse me, Luke, since when does it just happen that people who have died mosey on up to us? How about a “you’ll never believe what happened next …”? Or even a good, old-fashioned, biblical “behold”? The amazing victory of God’s mercy, love, and life seems to deserve a “behold” as it dawns on our lives. After all, the resurrection is not an everyday occurrence that just happens … or is it?

That perception of the resurrection as some extraordinary, uncommon, miraculous event is the very misperception that the Holy Spirit wants to dispel through Luke. The very understated “and it happened that” are some of the most important words in all the resurrection accounts. They drive home that it is a commonplace, everyday occurrence that our Risen Lord journeys with us. After all, Jesus suffered, died, and rose from the dead in large part to fulfill his promise to be with us all — always. Yet, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we often fail to see Jesus because we are not truly expecting him to knock on the doors of our lives.

These Easter days, Jesus continues to open the Scriptures and break the bread for us on the road of life. In doing so, Jesus desires to open our eyes and to transform our hopes and expectations, so that we see him drawing near and walking with us in our daily lives … in a friend’s caring shoulder, in a stranger’s unexpected kindness, in an acquaintance’s perfect timing, in our spouse’s faithful love, and in our child’s unpretentious joy. Then, we, like the first disciples, will be in awe at what just happens…


What are some of the ways that Jesus draws near me and walks with me in my life, especially ways in which I usually miss or overlook his loving, faithful presence with me?


Jesus, as you continue to open the Scriptures and break the bread for us this Easter day, may hope and expectation rise in our hearts, that we may see you on the way of our lives. Amen.


Copyright 2016 Fr. Andrew Gawrych, C.S.C.

Fr. Andrew Gawrych, C.S.C., is a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross. After working in parish and vocations ministry in the United States, he is currently the Director of Holy Cross’s International House of Formation in Santiago, Chile. He has also helped edit several books on Holy Cross spirituality through Ave Maria Press.

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Real Life Catholic: Happy Easter!

“He is not here. He is risen from the dead, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay!” (Matthew 28:6).

Bilbo finds a ring.

A group of children fall through a wardrobe into another dimension.

Snow White finds the love of her life. William Wallace loses his.

The old man in the sea hooks a monster fish.

Maximus is named Emperor by Marcus Aurelius.

Joseph loves Shannon.

Every story has one truth at its foundation. Without it, there’s no story.

There are over 450,000 words stretching from Tolkien’s Silmarillion to the end of the Return of the King. If you stood them on top of each other they’d probably tower over the Empire State Building. But if you remove the words: “bilbo found a ring” from somewhere around the 5th floor, they’d all come tumbling down. Without that, there’s no story. Orcs, Elves, Hobbits, Talking Trees…who cares?

There is one claim made by one faith.

Without it, the rest of the story of that faith doesn’t really matter. All of Jesus teachings, and his dying, wouldn’t matter. Actually, the rest of the story of the universe, and of your life wouldn’t make much sense either.

That one claim was made in a quiet cemetery in an outpost of the Roman Empire. It was carried on the trembling lips of a conformed harlot to a group of terrified fishermen. It was spoken in whispers. A secret too good to be true. Yet it was true. It is true. So true, in fact, that eyewitnesses died horrible deaths attesting to it. (You’ll find people who die for belief systems. Dying for an eyewitness testimony is vastly different than that!)

Within 300 years, this one true claim transformed the Roman Empire.

These three words continue to transform everything they touch, until the story of time is done: “He is risen.”

“Cinderella finds love.” The one truth is found somewhere in the story, but really, the whole story is found in that one truth.

The whole story of the universe, of human history, of Christianity, and of our own lives are found in these three words: “He is risen!”

This one truth is the proof that God is real. Love wins. And life is good.

And if that’s not true…who cares about the rest of the story?

Daily Gospel Reflection for March 26, 2016 – Holy Saturday

Today’s Gospel: Luke 24, 1-12

When I think of Christ’s resurrection, I’m drawn into wondering what the women who went to the tomb must have experienced in the dark, early hours of the morning; the confusion, the fear, and ultimate excitement at the news of Jesus being raised from the dead. This was incredible news, unbelievable news, in fact. For Christians today, Jesus’s resurrection is a given, the accepted truth, and gloriously celebrated. At the time, the news was unbelievable for “the Eleven”. Christ’s own followers, his closest confidants & companions, didn’t believe the news and ultimately had to be convinced. The mere fact that the women went to the tomb, fully prepared to anoint Jesus’s body shows us that his resurrection wasn’t expected.

I like to imagine the angels using the same tone I use with my six year-old when trying to nudge him to the correct answer: “Remember, how he told you this…” Though Jesus had promised his resurrection, the apostles didn’t truly expect it would happen. Maybe the concept of resurrection was something they had discussed, but the reality was that the thought of Christ being raised from the dead was quite perplexing, even incomprehensible.

With the resurrection, I’m reminded of three things:

1. Whatever limitations we may put on our own situations, those rules don’t apply to our Lord & savior.

2. Nothing is too big for God.

3. God keeps his promises.

It’s easy to begin to think you must bear a burden on your own. I know I’m guilty of that. I seem to find myself at times in the mindset that I’m the only one who can get me through. A favorite verse of mine that compliments this passage is John 16:33: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Be reminded this Easter that Jesus willingly bore the cross and death for you.


Are there people in my life who may need to be reminded of God’s love? Can I be the person to help them remember?


Lord, please open my eyes and heart to your desires for me. Use me to be your voice, to remind myself, and those around me, of your unending love, and that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  Amen.


Copyright 2016 Brook McCarthy

Brook is a wife to Brian, mother to Luke, and mother to two angel-babies, Avery & Colby. She also works full time for FujiFilm Medical, USA as a Product Manager. She enjoys being creative, cooking, and spending time with family and friends (usually in a combination of all three). In her spare time (mostly on commutes to work or in the shower), Brook likes to come up with songs. Silly songs, happy songs, serious songs, and lovely songs. Her dream is to produce a children’s music CD and/or book. She is appreciative of all the ways that God has blessed her and her family, and strives to live each day with a focus on how to show God’s love to others.

The post Daily Gospel Reflection for March 26, 2016 – Holy Saturday appeared first on – Celebrating Catholic Motherhood.

Daily Gospel Reflection for March 25, 2016 – Good Friday

Today’s Gospel: John 18:1—19:42 – Good Friday

I’ve read and heard the account of Jesus’ Passion countless times, yet it still stirs strong emotions in me. Today, the first thing I feel is anger at Judas for leading the soldiers to Jesus. Then I’m amazed that even though the soldiers acknowledge Jesus’ authority, they arrest him anyway. When Peter cuts off the ear of the slave, Malchus, I’m appalled. How can Peter do such a thing after all of Jesus’ teachings about peace and love? Later, when Peter denies Jesus the first time, my heart quickens. I’m filled with guilt and shame as I recall how I, in my own way, have denied Jesus by failing to defend my faith at times. When Jesus is first struck, I instinctively jerk away as though slapped myself. I feel both physical and emotional pain at how Jesus is mistreated. Yet I’m also filled with awe at Jesus’ calmness through his whole ordeal, especially because he knew “all that was to happen to him.”

The most heart-wrenching emotions come when Jesus looks down at his mother. Tears well up in my eyes as I picture the Blessed Mother standing there, watching her son die. I can’t imagine anything worse for a mother. How does she bear it? I feel grateful she at least has the support of “the disciple whom [Jesus] loved.”

Finally, just when grief and sorrow threaten to overwhelm me, I sense a glimmer of hope. Nearby, there is a garden. In the garden is a “new tomb,” and that is where Jesus’ body is laid. To me, the word “garden” hints at new life. And I’m reminded that the Passion isn’t the end, but a passageway to a new beginning. One filled with joy.


Read the Passion slowly and carefully, noting the emotions the words stir in you. What do your feelings tell you about your own faith journey? Do you sense a call to change, to a new beginning?


Lord, forgive me for the times I failed you by not standing up for my faith. Please give me the courage to speak up, but to do so with love and peace.


Copyright 2016 Carmela Martino

Carmela Martino is a freelance writer, children’s author, and writing teacher. Her children’s novel, Rosa, Sola, about an Italian-American girl growing up in 1960s Chicago, was awarded the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval. Carmela’s articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Catholic Parent, New Catholic Explorer, and other publications. She blogs about writing and teaching at

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Daily Gospel Reflection for March 24, 2016 – Holy Thursday

Today’s Gospel: John 13, 1-15

A number of years ago, I taught at a Catholic school where I also ran the student council. This school had a beautiful tradition for Holy Thursday. Every year, the student council members would “play the role” of the twelve disciples and have their feet washed. However, instead of the priest or deacon washing all twelve sets of feet, he would wash only the feet of the student council president. Then the president would turn and wash the feet of the vice-president, and so on down the line until each student council member had washed the feet of the next officer or homeroom representative.

Every year, I got the same reaction from the kids: “Huh? We have to do what? I don’t want anyone touching my feet!” I would smile at them and tell them they were doing this to show that they were not just student leaders, but actually student servants meant to be of service to their classmates. But the truth is, I’m not sure which freaked them out more: washing someone else’s feet or having someone else wash their feet.

Let’s be frank, it can be rather humbling to have someone touch your dirty, smelly, and/or funny-shaped feet. We’re an independent kind of society. If our feet need to be cleaned, we can do it ourselves, thank you very much. But that’s not what Jesus is calling us to do. He’s calling us to be humble servants and to let ourselves be washed clean by the good news He has to offer. We need him to wash our feet as much as the apostles did—and that takes some humility.


How can I use whatever leadership roles I embody in my family, school, church, or community to be of service to others today, and how can I humble myself to let someone else be of service to me?


Lord Jesus, You washed the feet of your disciples in order for them to have an inheritance in You. Help us to humble ourselves, not only in service to others, but to You, O Lord, so that we too may share in that same inheritance.


Copyright 2016 A.J. Cattapan

A.J. Cattapan is a teacher and author who writes Catholic fiction for teens and tweens. Her YA novel Angelhood was a 2015 Readers’ Favorite Book Award winner and an Amazon bestseller in the young adult-social issues category. Her middle grade mystery (featuring the Catholic churches of Chicago) is due out later this year.

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Daily Gospel Reflection for March 23, 2016

Today’s Gospel: Matt. 26, 14-25

Lent is coming to a close. Tomorrow the Triduum begins with the celebration of Holy Thursday. The joy of Easter is right around the corner but today, we remember the reality that Jesus faced-being betrayed by one of his closest friends for a lousy bag of silver!

I can’t even imagine how deeply hurt Jesus was knowing that He would be betrayed by one of the Twelve. I like to claim that I would NEVER have been the person to betray Jesus at his most difficult time. But the reality is, I’m not as innocent and pure as I’d like to think I am.

How many times have I betrayed Jesus by my sinfulness? How many times have I chosen the “bag of silver” called pride instead of following His Way? Does it hurt Him as much when I betray Him? Even at the end of these forty days of prayer, preparation and penance; I’m still not worthy of His love. Thankfully, Jesus’ love for us isn’t something we can ever earn or deserve. It’s a gift freely given.

That’s the joy of Easter. That’s why we celebrate. That’s why we keep trying every day to be more like Christ.


In what ways do I betray Jesus? What areas of my life am I holding back from Him? How can I give myself to Him more fully and freely?


Jesus, you were hurt by someone who was one of your closest friends. Help me to never hurt you like that. Help me to always stay by Your side even when it’s difficult. Amen.


Copyright 2016 Laura B. Nelson

Laura Nelson is a wife, mother of three children, Catholic blogger, author, speaker, teacher, and life-long student of the Catholic faith. She blogs at and When she isn’t working, mothering, writing, blogging, or speaking about our faith, she tries to keep up with the laundry, spend time with her family, and take an occasional nap.

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Daily Gospel Reflection for March 22, 2016

Today’s Gospel: John 13:21-33, 36-38


We have all faced denial in one form or another in our lives. Denial is not only painful, but also harmful to our self-worth. It’s hard to feel loved and worthy when someone has turned their back on you.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus reveals his betrayer. He dips the morsel and hands it to Judas Iscariot, signifying him as the one who will betray him to the Scribes and Pharisees.

Judas’ betrayal will effect our Lord’s arrest, trial, and Crucifixion.

What’s interesting in this scene – aside from the betrayal itself – is what Jesus says to the remaining disciples after Judas has left.

Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.” (Jn 13: 31-32)

Humanly speaking, that’s an odd thing to say.

Our Lord has just been betrayed in the most severe of ways, and yet he declares that he has been glorified. How can that be? He’s about to be shamed, tortured, and to die the death of a criminal.

Jesus is seeing the situation with divine eyes, which have a much deeper and broader scope than our merely human eyes. He understands that pain – yes, even betrayal – can bring glory, as long as it is endured for God’s sake.

This can be true of our own betrayal as well. Certainly it hurts. It even can be damaging and devastating. And yet, it can bring glory, not so much in that we ourselves will be glorified, but in that God will be glorified when we offer it all to him.

And when we give God glory, even in the most horrid of circumstances, we will eventually enter the glory of Eternity.

Betrayal is never easy to accept or recover from, but when we unite our sufferings with those of Jesus, the betrayal will sting less and we will be strengthened by his example and his grace.

In this way, our betrayal can become glorious indeed.


How is my betrayal similar to Jesus’ betrayal by Judas and how is it different?


Lord Jesus, you endured Judas’ betrayal for my sake, and in the process gave glory to God. In your divine wisdom, you know how I suffer with betrayal, and you know what I need to heal from it. Please, grant me the grace to give glory to God in spite of my affliction. Jesus, I unite my pain with yours. Amen.


Copyright 2016 Marge Fenelon

Marge Fenelon is a Catholic author, blogger, speaker, and journalist whose writing has appeared in dozens of media outlets, including National Catholic Register, Our Sunday Visitor, and Catholic News Service/Faith Alive. She blogs at National Catholic Register and is a columnist for the Milwaukee Catholic Herald. Fenelon is the author of several books on Marian devotion and Catholic family life, including Imitating Mary and Our Lady, Undoer of Knots: A Living Novena. She is a regular contributor on national Catholic radio programs and has appeared on Catholic television as well.

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Daily Gospel Reflection for March 21, 2016

Today’s Gospel: John 12, 1-11

I know Judas, the traitor. I know very well how to be practical and calculate the cost. Should I volunteer at school? Should I offer to make meals for a family who has a sick child? Should I offer to babysit? How much time will this cost me? How much money? What will I gain from it? These are all reasonable questions. But the quest for practicality leaves me hollow. Not wasting any time or money on others has paradoxically left me poor. But what is even more insidious is sin masked in piety. “Why not give to the poor?” asks Judas. He discourages devotion to our blessed Lord. He has no love for Christ. I have to guard against it.

Mary of Bethany is the answer. I know her too. Mary, who loves extravagantly, who loves without counting the cost, who takes all that she has and breaks it open over our Lord’s feet, reserving nothing. She even makes an offering of herself when she wipes our blessed Lord’s feet with her hair. I know how to love like this too, because of the love I have received, from family, friends, and above all my Lord Jesus. And when I do love – mentor another writer, prepare a lavish meal, or play with the neighbor’s child – my heart is filled. The sweet aroma of love spreads.

My heart lifts in quiet worship to love my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I cannot wait to waste an hour with Him in the Blessed Sacrament. I cannot wait for the next Holy Sacrifice of Mass so that I may offer myself in song and praise, thanksgiving and adoration. I worship as I kneel to receive Him. Domine nom sum dignus


How do you anoint the Lord’s feet to show your love and gratitude?


My dear Jesus, remove my selfishness. Make me sit attentively at your feet. Make me love You without any reserve like Mary of Bethany.


Copyright 2016 Vijaya Bodach

Vijaya Bodach is a scientist-turned-children’s writer, an atheist-turned-Catholic. She is also a wife, mother of two teenagers, pet-wrangler, teacher, speaker, Latin Mass lover, and choir member. She is the author of 50 supplemental science books for children and 60 pieces in leading children’s magazines. She writes about family, faith, books and writing at

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Daily Gospel Reflection for March 20, 2016 – Palm Sunday

 Today’s Gospel: Luke 22:14—23:56

Today’s reading of Jesus’ Passion marks the most solemn Sunday Gospel passage of the liturgical year. Human sinfulness is on full display as the one who was without sin is brutally executed in the most humiliating fashion.

Yet in the midst of his tremendous suffering, Jesus continues to do what he did throughout his earthly life by offering us a model to follow. From the very beginning of the Passion narrative, Jesus reveals that he knows a time of great trial awaits him. Through his Agony in the Garden, he shows us the value in approaching God with the desires of our heart, while ultimately acknowledging that God’s ways are not our ways.

Beyond showing us how to suffer well, Jesus sought to fully share our human experience. In accepting the cross, he freely chose to enter into the deepest depths of human suffering. While the greatest benefit of his sacrifice was the gift of eternal life, Jesus also gave us the gift of having someone to walk with us through our sufferings in this life. Though our inclination in times of suffering may be to wonder why God has abandoned us, the cross is the definitive reminder that our God is able to accompany us in our sorrow and pain precisely because he willingly experienced those realities himself.

As we enter into Holy Week, let us take the time to contemplate the extent of what our Savior endured for our sakes. And in doing so, let us recognize that come Easter morning, our reason for rejoicing will be twofold- that death will not be the final word for us in the next life, and that our God is intimately present with us in all that we undergo now.


When we offer up our sufferings in union with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we allow God to transform them for the good of others. For what intention can you offer up the sufferings you endure today?


Lord, grant me the grace to bear the sufferings that afflict me. Help me to recognize your presence working through the people and experiences in my life to bring me comfort and peace.

Copyright 2016 Danielle Bianchi

Danielle Bianchi earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Theology from the University of Notre Dame, and is a graduate of the school’s Echo Program for catechetical leadership. She and her husband have three children.

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Real Life Catholic: Sixth Sunday of Lent

The Way: A Real Life Journey: STEP 7: LOVE. EVERYONE.

Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 22:34).

The love of God wasn’t proven when God created the world in Genesis 1. That happened about a thousand chapters later. “He proved his love by dying for us.” (See Romans 5:8).

The same is true for us. Love is easy until it’s tested. When it requires sacrifice, it’s proven.

It’s easy to love people until we meet…those people. It’s easy to love our enemies until we actually have enemies. Heck, it’s easy to be a parent until we have kids!

Authentic love demands that we speak the truth even at the risk of being crucified for it, because love doesn’t stand by silently as people fall into the darkness of sin. It calls us to open our hearts to those who disagree with how we see the world, even at the risk of being hurt by them. Love pushes us out of our comfort zones into places we’d rather not go to serve the poor. Love demands that we stop asking “how can my wife/parent/sibling be better” and start asking “how can I make my wife/parent/sibling the happiest in the world? Love demands death to self.

It’s enjoyable to love when it’s easy! Jesus said it himself. “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors and sinners doing that?” Think about it: even Hitler was probably all smiles when he was playing golf with his closest friends! But God “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Every. Single. Day. That’s how we’re called to love. The early Christians didn’t convert the world by words alone, but by their love in the face of pain.

The early Christians had it far worse than us. On any given Sunday one could go to the Roman Coliseum and see fellow believers being eaten by lions to the loud cheers of their neighbors. Worship and catechesis took place in secret.

They had good reasons to be angry! Very angry. They had every right to flee the world. But they didn’t. They spoke truth to power. They fought for their rightful place in society. They spoke out. St. Paul was as crafty as a lawyer when he was on trial. Christians engaged all levels of society from standing up for the dignity of the poor to St. Sebastian’s legendary face-to-face confrontation with the emperor, for which he was pierced with arrows. They didn’t budge an inch when it came to the evils of their day. Countless Christians faced death rather then offering a single pinch of incense as worship to the emperor.

But more than resisting the powers that be, they resisted the enemy within. They resisted the natural tendency to categorize the world as “us” verses “them.” For the saints, the only “us” was humankind, the only “them” was the devil and his legions. They weren’t like other prisoners when they were executed. They didn’t curse at those who tortured them. They forgave. The early Christians were able to engage the world as much with their love as with the truth. That’s why Christendom was born within 300 years of Christ’s death.

If they hadn’t followed the example of Jesus, who could dine with sinners and forgive his murderers, Christianity would’ve ended in the Coliseum as soon as the last Catholic was eaten for lunch.

“I say to you, love your enemies.”

Spend a minute reflecting on who it’s most difficult for you to love, and make a choice to do something concrete and generous for that person. And if it’s someone you can’t be in contact with for some reason, try a simple prayer, even if it’s through gritting teeth, “Lord Jesus, I ask you to bless (insert the person who hurt you most) in every way! Most of all with saving grace and the discovery of YOU.” Pray that daily until you mean it.

If you love like that, not only will you change the world, you’ll change.