Category Archives: Lent Reflection

Daily Gospel Reflection for March 19, 2016 – Solemnity of St. Joseph

Today’s Gospel: Matt. 1:16, 18-21, 24A – Solemnity of St. Joseph

When I volunteered to write a reflection for, I wondered if I might be just a little out of my element. What could I possibly say? And when I opened my assignment, I was reminded once again to trust in the Holy Spirit. I’ve been in love with Joseph as a model of commitment ever since we used a novena to him to prepare for a retreat several years ago.

At the installation Mass of the Bishop of Rome on St. Joseph’s feast day, Pope Francis posed the question: “How does Joseph respond to his calling to be protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church?” The newly installed Holy Father offered his own response: “By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply his own.”

Two very significant messages can be gleaned here. First, Joseph sets aside his pride. His first thoughts are to protect Mary, who had just given him some gut-wrenching news. His betrothed is pregnant!

As husbands and wives, we often let our pride stand between us and the unconditional love that we promised to give. Our society often tells us that fidelity is not valued, giving us the idea it’s OK to end a marriage if we’re not happy or if the day-to-day becomes a struggle.

And here, Joseph models commitment for us very humbly, yet with great strength: We must commit to love and mercy above all else. Joseph has even more to teach us from his quiet action.

The second lesson Joseph teaches us in today’s Gospel reading is obedience. Even knowing that choosing to stay with Mary would subject both of them and their unborn child to considerable hardship, Joseph obeys the Lord. Other figures in the Bible have asked for more than one sign, more than one voice in a dream. But that is not the way of Joseph. He didn’t ask again—nor did he ask for more time to discern. Joseph unselfishly obeyed the Lord’s command. This truly righteous man placed his trust in God, taking what had to be a tremendous leap.


Is there something you might do today to let your spouse know that you love him/her unconditionally?
Look for some moment when you might be tempted to let your pride win. Can you find a way to put your spouse first?


Loving God, thank you for your humble servant, Joseph, and the lessons you give us through him. We take comfort in knowing that the challenges we face are small in comparison to the gifts you have in store for us when we choose to follow you. Amen


Copyright 2016 Ray Taylor

Ray Taylor converted to Catholicism in 2005. Since then he has been on a journey to deepen his faith through particpation in small groups and retreats. Ray is a member of the leadership team for the Men’s Spirituality Group and an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist at his parish, St. Brigid of Kildare in Dublin, Ohio. He is also the director of sales and marketing for Franciscan Media and St Anthony Messenger Magazine.

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Daily Gospel Reflection for March 18, 2016

Today’s Gospel: John 10, 31-42

Everyone has an opinion about ushers, particularly church ushers.

To usher someone means to escort, to walk alongside, or to accompany a person. An usher does not take the place of a person, nor does an usher change the person being accompanied. This is what Jesus does with the law. He ushers in a new law, while still walking alongside the Mosaic Law.

And just like a good usher, every time Jesus is challenged by the scribes, Pharisees, elders, and other Jews, he continues to walk alongside them, interpreting the law correctly – but with room for love and mercy. Jesus’ ability to usher in the new law takes nothing away from the original, but completes it. And ushering in the new law is precisely what will send him to the cross.

I find it interesting that we see Jesus ushering in the new law and a few verses later he has traveled the 21 miles back to the Jordan River – the scene of his baptism with John – perhaps the most famous “usher” of all! Actually, even today, I think if John the Baptist showed up for liturgy training, he’d want to be an usher.

And actually, most church ushers don’t walk with people at all. They do a lot more pointing and yelling. Kind of like John the Baptist. All the same, Jesus returns to his baptism – the first appearance of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together – to receive strength for his next ushering task.


Who am I being asked to “usher” closer to Jesus in my life? Who is seeking to “usher” me closer to Jesus?


Lord Jesus, help me to really take the time to walk with someone today. Teach me to use the gift of my life to “point” someone to you. But first, I must really know you and walk with you myself. Amen.


Copyright 2016 Colleen O’Dowd

Colleen O’Dowd is the Director of Youth Ministry at Holy Spirit Parish in Stevens Point, WI. She loves being Catholic, her converse all-stars are always liturgically correct, and she is a super-saint-geek! She blogs very occasionally at and can also be found @catholiccolleen on Twitter and Instagram.

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Daily Gospel Reflection for March 17, 2016

Today’s Gospel: John 8, 51-59

In the Gospel today, we see that Jesus has returned to the temple to preach to the people.  He spoke to the people about who he was, a truth which the Jews could barely believe, especially from such a young man “not even fifty years old”.  Jesus tried to tell them that he was from God, the Father, and that he knows him intimately, that those that listen to him, will not see death…as we know it.  The Jews didn’t understand how Jesus could know God this well, as his Father, or that he came from the Father.

Trying to be humble, Jesus told them, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing, it is my Father who glorifies me.”  But still the Jews couldn’t believe Jesus.  The truth is way beyond their comprehension, and so instead of letting it sink in and letting their hearts be changed, the Jews began to to take up stones against Jesus to rid themselves of this confusion. It is the same with us: we try to destroy the source of our confusion.

Today we celebrate St Patrick, who led a difficult life; he was forced into slavery as a young boy, but escaped back to his home to finish his religious studies and become a Bishop.  After this, he was led back to Ireland by a dream of the voices of Ireland calling to him.  He built and founded many churches across Ireland, converted the country to Catholicism, and saved souls for 40 years.  St. Patrick believed in the mystery of our Heavenly Father and Jesus, hence he spent the rest of his life spreading the news about Jesus.  He accepted the truth and was led by it.

The mystery of our God never ends, but we need to let go of ourselves, let God come into our hearts and allow him to help us understand.  We need not destroy or turn away from the confusion, but turn to him who is the “I AM” and be his children.


St. Patrick devoted the rest of his life teaching, converting a country to Jesus and the Catholic faith. Is there some part of your faith that you would give of yourself to others full force?


Dear Jesus, as a follower of yours, I want to spread the word about you. Help me to have the confidence in myself to talk about you and evangelize others around me. Amen.


Copyright 2016 Elizabeth Weidner

Elizabeth “Ebeth” Weidner is a Master Catechist writing for Catholic Mom for the past 6 years, along with a number of other online and printed resources. A former Catholic homeschooling mom, she and her scientist husband have three amazing young adults that call them mom and dad! She writes at

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Daily Gospel Reflection for March 16, 2016

Today’s Gospel: John 8:31-42

Growing up in the U.S., I was taught that I lived in the land of the free. I was taught that I had all kinds of freedoms, including freedom of speech and freedom of religion. What I quickly learned as a child was that freedom of speech did not necessarily apply in my household. There were certain words I was not allowed to use and there were consequences if I used those words.

As a mom, I’ve learned that I still don’t have complete freedom of speech. Yes, I can say whatever I want, but often times there is a cost to using a certain choice of words. My words carry a great deal of weight with my kids; they can build my children up and they can also tear them down.

The Jews told Jesus that they were already free, but Jesus reminds them in verse 34 that whoever commits a sin is a slave of sin. My freedom of speech can still enslave me. When I sin with my words, I have misused my freedom and have become a slave to sin. Thanks be to God, I can repent and ask God to break off the shackles of slavery and return me to a state of freedom.


What are areas where you think you are free, but instead you are actually being held in slavery?


Heavenly Father, you give us true freedom.  Help us to use our free will to find ways to be in a state of freedom and to avoid choosing to enter into a state of sin.


Copyright 2016 Courtney Vallejo

Courtney Vallejo is a Catholic wife and mother who lives in California. She and her husband are raising their two adopted children. She holds a Master’s degree in Film Production and a California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. She also writes for her own blog,

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Daily Gospel Reflection for March 15, 2016

Today’s Gospel: John 8, 21-30

In John 8:25 the people asked Jesus, “Who are you?” Jesus responded with, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM. . .” When I was younger I was always confused by this reading and Christ’s explanation of who he was. This phrase was a mystery to me that seemed more like an unfinished statement. I wanted to ask I AM what? Now that I am older and have acquired more knowledge, I understand that it is a mystery and that is just what God intended. He expects us to complete this phrase with our own experience of Him over the course of our lives. It is our duty as Christians to unravel this mystery.

We are all children of God, in a different way than Jesus, and like children, we learn incrementally. It takes us time to digest concepts, develop skills and to gain understanding to be able to act them. In Jesus day the Jews also struggled with who Jesus was. He was a radical thinker speaking out against the leadership of the time. He was performing healings and drawing crowds. He was a threat that could not be ignored. Today, we struggle with some of those same fears.

Good mysteries unravel through our fears, gradually over a long period of time. As we receive more clues and piece them together, things we thought we understood take on new meaning in the light of new insights. They become clearer. While we may travel down different paths coming to dead ends along the way, eventually we have enough information to solve the mystery. Like the centurion at the foot of the cross, “Truly, this was the Son of God.”


Have you ever read or watched a mystery and thought you had it figured out and upon receiving additional information, realized you needed to begin again?


Jesus, provide me with insights so that I may understand who you are and how I can serve you. Draw me closer to understanding my true path.


Copyright 2016 Cathleen O’Toole

Recently retired after 48 years business and education, I enrolled in the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program at a local Catholic Seminary in search of more information. I am finishing up this program and hope to start a Parish Blog so that fellow parishioners are able to put into writing their faith journeys. I am also planning my fourth pilgrimage to the Holy Land, taking several friends along to share the experience of a lifetime.

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Daily Gospel Reflection for March 14, 2016

Today’s Gospel: John 8, 12-20

Jesus said He is the light of the world and those of us who follow Him will not walk in darkness but have the light of life. Have you noticed how dark our homes become at night, after the television is off, the laptop closed for the night and our phone plugged in the charger? Late at night, in that darkness, I realize just how blinding and misguiding the lights of the world are.

The lights of the latest status update, email or television sitcom drown out the light of Christ. It’s kind of like being in the city and looking up; there are very few if any stars seen because the light pollution from the stores and streetlights drown out the stars. But get away from the city, and the sky is illuminated with millions of twinkling stars it seems.

I want that light of life Christ speaks about in this Gospel passage. But it only makes sense that the more time I spend in front of the artificial light, the more I am filled with it. The artificial light drowns out and leaves no room for the light of Christ. Jesus also tells the Pharisees He knows from where He came and where He is going. I, on the other hand, feel like a deer caught in the headlights some days.

Not only does the artificial light of the world obscure the light of Christ, it also dazes and confuses me. I’m not sure where I came from or where I’m going, but I’m in a hurry no less. I want to be able to see the light of Christ. I want to be the light of Christ in a light polluted world.


Are there times when you choose the light of the world over or before the light of Christ?


Jesus Christ, light of the world, I want to be a shining example of Your light and love. Please show me how to choose the better part – the true light of life, over the light pollution found so easily in the world.


Copyright 2016 Jenny Coleen

God lover, Word seeker, truth speaker…Hi, I’m Jenny and I write at The Littlest Way to encourage women to find their value and worth in Christ through Bible Journaling, Bible Quotes, Daily Affirmations and Book Club Time. I have been married to Chris for 23 years and we have 7 children. Let’s live a BIG life in a little way.

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Daily Gospel Reflection for March 13, 2016 – Fifth Sunday of Lent

Today’s Gospel: John 8, 1-11

She was held captive by her public sin, the man—maybe among the crowd—held privately his sinning with her. Only she would bear the shame publicly. His shame was wrapped in pride, kept hidden and made harder to repent of.

Our Lord knew the deceitfulness in the scribes and Pharisees who brought the woman. He knew the duplicity of the sexual sin of both parties, of the one-sided law, and the entrapment of the question.

I wonder if Jesus’ writing on the ground was the opportunity for the men to be reflective, to look within their hardened hearts of pride for their own transgressions.

Public sins are harder to forgive. The adulterous woman’s acts were known in her community. She would bear her shame until the scarlet faded. She would need to forgive herself and find amends with her neighbors, to whose children she had exposed to an injury to the covenant of marriage.

The community must forgive her, and the man, and openly encourage both for the betterment of their soul, and their souls as well.

Public sins can be a lasting embarrassment and though we may atone, the persons, places, or the memories trigger the shame afresh. It is a process to forgive, and sometimes a long arduous journey.

No matter that.

For no matter how great our sin, when we turn in contrition to Our Lord in prayer, his mercy is even greater. He offers us the means to do better, to forgive more deeply, and to try our best to avoid the sin again.


What is the situation for which I’ve not forgiven myself of a public mistake? Not forgiven another for their mistake? What is it that prevents me from allowing God’s mercy?


Lord, help me to forgive myself and trust in your mercy. Help me to let go of my pride, to see my sins reflected in others, and to let go of fear to help them and myself to heal.


Copyright 2016 Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB

Margaret Rose Realy, Obl OSB, is a lay hermit, advanced master gardener with over 35 years experience in the green industry, liturgical garden consultant, author, and offers presentations, workshops, and retreats. She is the coordinator emeritus of St. Francis Retreat Center Garden Society, DeWitt, Michigan, columnist at and blogs about gardening and spirituality at Morning Rose Prayer Gardens,

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Real Life Catholic: Fifth Sunday of Lent


“He was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more” (John 8:10-11).

 Jesus was alone with her. Her accusers left her. And they are imperfect. Jesus, the only one who is perfect, and the only one who by rights really could accuse her—He stays behind. He doesn’t accuse her. He comforts her. He forgives her. And then He gives her a mission: He sends her out to be a witness to mercy. It changed her life. God has given us mercy. Isn’t it time we give it to others? That’s hard to do, isn’t it? But really, I think it’s most hard to do when we don’t receive the mercy of Jesus for ourselves! Harsh judgment of others usually starts deep within—when our own self-perception is formed by negative events in our lives rather than the love of God.

Scripture calls the devil “the father of lies.” Lies about who we are tend to slip into our lives in a million different ways:

  • Bullying tells us “you’re weak.”
  • Molestation tells us “you’re worthless.”
  • Verbal abuse tells us “you’re unlovable.”
  • The self-abuse of sin tells us “you’re no better than your worse mistake.”

All lies, from the father of lies.

Jesus said, “I am the truth.” He also said, “the truth will set you free.”

The woman caught in adultery bore the name: whore. Until a man stood between her and her executioners. “Let anyone without sin cast the first stone!” One by one they walked away. “Is there anyone left who condemns you? Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Peter bore a name: unworthy. He fell to his knees and said “Depart from me Lord. I’m a sinful man.” Jesus saw something more in Peter than he saw in himself. “Come follow me. You’ll be a fisher of men.”

St. Paul was a persecutor of Christians. In one of the simplest, most heroic acts in early Christian history Ananias, who had been hiding from Paul, went to pray over him. He didn’t say “Saul, you murderer.” He said, “Saul, my brother, our Lord sent me.”

Forgiven. Fisher of Men. Brother.

What have you named yourself?

The truth is we have a God and savior who thinks you’re worth dying for. When you hear false identities whispered in your ear, replace them with your real identity: Loved. I don’t mean that figuratively. I mean it literally. Look in the mirror and speak the truth. “I am beautiful.” “I am good.” “I am redeemed.” “I am a daughter/son of God.” “I am loved.”

Don’t wait for me to do that for you. Preach the truth to yourself. Then you can preach it to others.

Daily Gospel Reflection for March 12, 2016

Today’s Gospel: John 7, 40-53

Have you ever been surprised when someone close to you disagrees with you on an important topic? While it is sometimes difficult to avoid arguments when discussing matters of politics and religion, I like to think that I can, and will, admit when any individual makes a genuinely honest and true statement—even when he or she doesn’t belong to my party, follow my philosophy, or attend my Church.

A number of years ago, a young priest came to my parish and preached vigorously on the difficulties faced by the rich man trying to get into heaven. He was charismatic and sincere, but many parishioners spoke out against him. They clearly felt threatened by his challenging interpretation of God’s word. Within weeks the young priest left the parish.

I still think of that priest each time I meet someone who is filled with the light of enthusiasm. I absolutely know that zeal does not equal rightness, but I do not want to close my heart to the possible presence of Christ in others because the message presented does not agree with my personal paradigm.
God doesn’t always appear in our lives in the ways that we expect. I believe that God manifests in ways that often challenge our preconceived notions. We all want to see God in our lives and know God in our hearts, but could it be possible that we ignore—or even oppose—Him when He speaks through persons that don’t subscribe to our closely held opinions?

I hope that I will always ask, as Nicodemus did in today’s Gospel “Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?” And I pray that, in doing so, I will keep my heart open to Christ’s presence in my life.


Is there someone in my life whom I avoid because they challenge me to be a better person?


Dear Jesus, help me to see your face in the people that I meet each day. Let the Holy Spirit guide my heart and mind toward the recognition of your truth in others. The more unlikely the messenger, the more I wish to be open to your presence in my life.


Copyright 2016 Leanne Fanning Pankuch

Leanne Pankuch is a cradle Catholic, former catechist, accomplished church vocalist, children’s writer and SCBWI member living in the New York Hudson Valley. She has two crazy dogs, an amazing husband, children, and family, and a degree in English. Her writing has appeared in a variety of media—including the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Contact her at

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Daily Gospel Reflection for March 11, 2016 – Day of Abstinence

Today’s Gospel: John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

The Gospel reading today challenges me to become a better witness of Christ’s love. Despite the danger (including death threats!) surrounding him, Jesus unapologetically travels to Jerusalem and begins to preach.

During a recent talk to elementary school children, I asked them, “When you hear the word ‘witness’, what do you think of?”

“A car accident!” was the first reply.

“Someone stealing something!” came next.

“Anyone have a more positive answer?” I questioned.

“How about a court case?” was the third answer.

“I guess that could go either way…”

After thanking the students for their answers, I said this: “Witnessing involves two parts. The first part is indeed seeing something with your own eyes, like a car accident or someone stealing something.

But the second part of being a witness means that you have to go out and tell someone what you saw. Otherwise, no one else will know!”

I challenge myself to be a better witness all the time. I see God’s marvelous works in so many ways, whether it be in my family and friends, in my relationships, or in my work in youth and young adult ministry.

But how often do I tell others about these marvelous works? What about the people who don’t know God? Or those who have a wavering belief in Him?

Today’s reading inspires me and encourages me to continue to share both Jesus’ story and MY story; that is how he is working in my life. And to be a better witness to my wife, my kids, my friends, and the youth and young adults I minister to and with.

I will be a witness by speaking out and stating the truth, just as Jesus did. The world needs to know about him and his love.


In what areas of your life can you be a better witness to Christ?


Lord Jesus, give me the strength and courage to be a witness of your love and mercy to everyone I encounter.


Copyright 2016 Clayton Imoo

Clay lives in beautiful Vancouver, BC with his wife and three children. He has served as the Director of the Youth and Young Adult Ministry Office of the Archdiocese of Vancouver for the past 13 years. He has spoken at numerous conferences and rallies locally, nationally, and internationally. He writes about family, faith, and the Vancouver Canucks at

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