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Lent (90)

Mercoledì, 09 Marzo 2011 21:47

Message from the Pope for Lent 2011

Written by

Pope Benedict XVI

“You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him.” (cf. Col 2: 12)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Lenten period, which leads us to the celebration of Holy Easter, is for the Church a most valuable and important liturgical time, in view of which I am pleased to offer a specific word in order that it may be lived with due diligence. As she awaits the definitive encounter with her Spouse in the eternal Easter, the Church community, assiduous in prayer and charitable works, intensifies her journey in purifying the spirit, so as to draw more abundantly from the Mystery of Redemption the new life in Christ the Lord (cf. Preface I of Lent).


1. This very life was already bestowed upon us on the day of our Baptism, when we “become sharers in Christ’s death and Resurrection”, and there began for us “the joyful and exulting adventure of his disciples” (Homily on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, 10 January, 2010). In his Letters, St. Paul repeatedly insists on the singular communion with the Son of God that this washing brings about. The fact that, in most cases, Baptism is received in infancy highlights how it is a gift of God: no one earns eternal life through their own efforts. The mercy of God, which cancels sin and, at the same time, allows us to experience in our lives “the mind of Christ Jesus” (Phil 2: 5), is given to men and women freely. The Apostle to the Gentiles, in the Letter to the Philippians, expresses the meaning of the transformation that takes place through participation in the death and resurrection of Christ, pointing to its goal: that “I may come to know him and the power of his resurrection, and partake of his sufferings by being molded to the pattern of his death, striving towards the goal of resurrection from the dead” (Phil 3: 10-11). Hence, Baptism is not a rite from the past, but the encounter with Christ, which informs the entire existence of the baptized, imparting divine life and calling for sincere conversion; initiated and supported by Grace, it permits the baptized to reach the adult stature of Christ.


A particular connection binds Baptism to Lent as the favorable time to experience this saving Grace. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council exhorted all of the Church’s Pastors to make greater use “of the baptismal features proper to the Lenten liturgy” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum concilium, n. 109). In fact, the Church has always associated the Easter Vigil with the celebration of Baptism: this Sacrament realizes the great mystery in which man dies to sin, is made a sharer in the new life of the Risen Christ and receives the same Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead (cf. Rm 8: 11). This free gift must always be rekindled in each one of us, and Lent offers us a path like that of the catechumenate, which, for the Christians of the early Church, just as for catechumens today, is an irreplaceable school of faith and Christian life. Truly, they live their Baptism as an act that shapes their entire existence.


2. In order to undertake more seriously our journey towards Easter and prepare ourselves to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord – the most joyous and solemn feast of the entire liturgical year – what could be more appropriate than allowing ourselves to be guided by the Word of God? For this reason, the Church, in the Gospel texts of the Sundays of Lent, leads us to a particularly intense encounter with the Lord, calling us to retrace the steps of Christian initiation: for catechumens, in preparation for receiving the Sacrament of rebirth; for the baptized, in light of the new and decisive steps to be taken in the sequela Christi and a fuller giving of oneself to him.


The First Sunday of the Lenten journey reveals our condition as human beings here on earth. The victorious battle against temptation, the starting point of Jesus’ mission, is an invitation to become aware of our own fragility in order to accept the Grace that frees from sin and infuses new strength in Christ – the way, the truth and the life (cf. Ordo Initiationis Christianae Adultorum, n. 25). It is a powerful reminder that Christian faith implies, following the example of Jesus and in union with him, a battle “against the ruling forces who are masters of the darkness in this world” (Eph 6: 12), in which the devil is at work and never tires – even today – of tempting whoever wishes to draw close to the Lord: Christ emerges victorious to open also our hearts to hope and guide us in overcoming the seductions of evil.


The Gospel of the Transfiguration of the Lord puts before our eyes the glory of Christ, which anticipates the resurrection and announces the divinization of man. The Christian community becomes aware that Jesus leads it, like the Apostles Peter, James and John “up a high mountain by themselves” (Mt 17: 1), to receive once again in Christ, as sons and daughters in the Son, the gift of the Grace of God: “This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favor. Listen to him” (Mt 17: 5). It is the invitation to take a distance from the noisiness of everyday life in order to immerse oneself in God’s presence. He desires to hand down to us, each day, a Word that penetrates the depths of our spirit, where we discern good from evil (cf. Heb 4:12), reinforcing our will to follow the Lord.


The question that Jesus puts to the Samaritan woman: “Give me a drink” (Jn 4: 7), is presented to us in the liturgy of the third Sunday; it expresses the passion of God for every man and woman, and wishes to awaken in our hearts the desire for the gift of “a spring of water within, welling up for eternal life” (Jn 4: 14): this is the gift of the Holy Spirit, who transforms Christians into “true worshipers,” capable of praying to the Father “in spirit and truth” (Jn 4: 23). Only this water can extinguish our thirst for goodness, truth and beauty! Only this water, given to us by the Son, can irrigate the deserts of our restless and unsatisfied soul, until it “finds rest in God”, as per the famous words of St. Augustine.

The Sunday of the man born blind presents Christ as the light of the world. The Gospel confronts each one of us with the question: “Do you believe in the Son of man?” “Lord, I believe!” (Jn 9: 35. 38), the man born blind joyfully exclaims, giving voice to all believers. The miracle of this healing is a sign that Christ wants not only to give us sight, but also open our interior vision, so that our faith may become ever deeper and we may recognize him as our only Savior. He illuminates all that is dark in life and leads men and women to live as “children of the light”.


On the fifth Sunday, when the resurrection of Lazarus is proclaimed, we are faced with the ultimate mystery of our existence: “I am the resurrection and the life… Do you believe this?” (Jn 11: 25-26). For the Christian community, it is the moment to place with sincerity – together with Martha – all of our hopes in Jesus of Nazareth: “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world” (Jn 11: 27). Communion with Christ in this life prepares us to overcome the barrier of death, so that we may live eternally with him. Faith in the resurrection of the dead and hope in eternal life open our eyes to the ultimate meaning of our existence: God created men and women for resurrection and life, and this truth gives an authentic and definitive meaning to human history, to the personal and social lives of men and women, to culture, politics and the economy. Without the light of faith, the entire universe finishes shut within a tomb devoid of any future, any hope.


The Lenten journey finds its fulfillment in the Paschal Triduum, especially in the Great Vigil of the Holy Night: renewing our baptismal promises, we reaffirm that Christ is the Lord of our life, that life which God bestowed upon us when we were reborn of “water and Holy Spirit”, and we profess again our firm commitment to respond to the action of the Grace in order to be his disciples.


3. By immersing ourselves into the death and resurrection of Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are moved to free our hearts every day from the burden of material things, from a self-centered relationship with the “world” that impoverishes us and prevents us from being available and open to God and our neighbor. In Christ, God revealed himself as Love (cf. 1Jn 4: 7-10). The Cross of Christ, the “word of the Cross”, manifests God’s saving power (cf. 1Cor 1: 18), that is given to raise men and women anew and bring them salvation: it is love in its most extreme form (cf. Encyclical Deus caritas est, n. 12). Through the traditional practices of fasting, almsgiving and prayer, which are an expression of our commitment to conversion, Lent teaches us how to live the love of Christ in an ever more radical way. Fasting, which can have various motivations, takes on a profoundly religious significance for the Christian: by rendering our table poorer, we learn to overcome selfishness in order to live in the logic of gift and love; by bearing some form of deprivation – and not just what is in excess – we learn to look away from our “ego”, to discover Someone close to us and to recognize God in the face of so many brothers and sisters. For Christians, fasting, far from being depressing, opens us ever more to God and to the needs of others, thus allowing love of God to become also love of our neighbor (cf. Mk 12: 31).


In our journey, we are often faced with the temptation of accumulating and love of money that undermine God’s primacy in our lives. The greed of possession leads to violence, exploitation and death; for this, the Church, especially during the Lenten period, reminds us to practice almsgiving – which is the capacity to share. The idolatry of goods, on the other hand, not only causes us to drift away from others, but divests man, making him unhappy, deceiving him, deluding him without fulfilling its promises, since it puts materialistic goods in the place of God, the only source of life. How can we understand God’s paternal goodness, if our heart is full of egoism and our own projects, deceiving us that our future is guaranteed? The temptation is to think, just like the rich man in the parable: “My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come…”. We are all aware of the Lord’s judgment: “Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul…” (Lk 12: 19-20). The practice of almsgiving is a reminder of God’s primacy and turns our attention towards others, so that we may rediscover how good our Father is, and receive his mercy.


During the entire Lenten period, the Church offers us God’s Word with particular abundance. By meditating and internalizing the Word in order to live it every day, we learn a precious and irreplaceable form of prayer; by attentively listening to God, who continues to speak to our hearts, we nourish the itinerary of faith initiated on the day of our Baptism. Prayer also allows us to gain a new concept of time: without the perspective of eternity and transcendence, in fact, time simply directs our steps towards a horizon without a future. Instead, when we pray, we find time for God, to understand that his “words will not pass away” (cf. Mk 13: 31), to enter into that intimate communion with Him “that no one shall take from you” (Jn 16: 22), opening us to the hope that does not disappoint, eternal life.

In synthesis, the Lenten journey, in which we are invited to contemplate the Mystery of the Cross, is meant to reproduce within us “the pattern of his death” (Ph 3: 10), so as to effect a deep conversion in our lives; that we may be transformed by the action of the Holy Spirit, like St. Paul on the road to Damascus; that we may firmly orient our existence according to the will of God; that we may be freed of our egoism, overcoming the instinct to dominate others and opening us to the love of Christ. The Lenten period is a favorable time to recognize our weakness and to accept, through a sincere inventory of our life, the renewing Grace of the Sacrament of Penance, and walk resolutely towards Christ.


Dear Brothers and Sisters, through the personal encounter with our Redeemer and through fasting, almsgiving and prayer, the journey of conversion towards Easter leads us to rediscover our Baptism. This Lent, let us renew our acceptance of the Grace that God bestowed upon us at that moment, so that it may illuminate and guide all of our actions. What the Sacrament signifies and realizes, we are called to experience every day by following Christ in an ever more generous and authentic manner. In this our itinerary, let us entrust ourselves to the Virgin Mary, who generated the Word of God in faith and in the flesh, so that we may immerse ourselves – just as she did – in the death and resurrection of her Son Jesus, and possess eternal life.


Source: The Vatican Website

Martedì, 08 Marzo 2011 22:12

The Way of the Cross with Carmelite Saints

Written by

prepared by Carmelite Vocation and WebTeam

THE CARMELITE SAINTS in their prayers and reflections reveal a deep communion with the Passion of Jesus. In the light of Christ crucified they beheld the depths of the heart of God and discovered there as well the meaning of the human heart.

One of the most fruitful practices of Christian piety is known as The Way of the Cross (or Stations of the Cross), a devotion that in all probability dates back to the era of the first Christians.

As practiced today, the devotion centers on fourteen chosen representations of the sufferings of Christ on his way to Calvary. Each station or stop is a place for contemplation, a moment to gaze on the sorrowful Christ who remains close to us in the mystery of human suffering.

FIRST STATION: Jesus is condemned to death

"When the soul reaches the stage at which it pays little attention to praise, it pays even less attention to disapproval. Blame strengthens the soul; what's more, it acquires a special and tender love for its persecutors." ~ Saint Teresa of Avila station of the Cross 01

Lord, my soul is before you.  You know me deeply, you know all about me, you read into my inmost depths.  You gather every tear and respond to my every smile.  There is no space or time in my life when you do not visit with your love, with your friendship.  I thank you for all of this, my God.  My path in this life is traced out, is certain: with each step, I want to be with you, in joy and in struggle, in peace and in misunderstanding, in company and in solitude.  Your presence, O Jesus, makes my soul strong, even in weakness. 

SECOND STATION: Jesus carries the cross

"Jesus lavishes his crosses as the most certain mark of his tenderness, for He will to make you like Him. So why be afraid of not being able to carry the cross without weakening?" ~ Saint Thérèse of Lisieux station of the Cross 02

Lord, so many times I knew your tenderness in my life!  Especially in the painful moments, when I could no longer find the words to say, when it was impossible for me to pray, when there was only night...You became near, even in silence, with a barely perceptible touch.  I saw you in some many times, Jesus, that I could look you in the eye.  Then, when the light returned, when the tears were dried, I felt a little more like you, a little more your son and brother.

THIRD STATION: Jesus falls the first time

A 'scientia crucis' can be gained only when one comes to feel the cross radically. The entire sum of human failures can be blotted out by the expiation of the cross. ~ St. Edith Stein station of the Cross 03

Lord, I know that I do not know you as I should, as I would like.  I know that I still have a long journey, walking behind you, following in your footsteps, even in the shadow of the cross.  All that I can brag about are my weaknesses, my faults.  Humanly speaking, Jesus, I am truly a poor thing, but with you in my heart and in my life, I feel rich, I feel happy.  I do not want to hide myself before you; I open my arms, I open my heart so that you may enter into my poverty with true wealth, which is your cross.  Yes, my Savior: this is the sign of Love.

FOURTH STATION: Jesus meets his mother

The Gospel here places no words in the mouth of your mother. And you, too, my Jesus speak not a word. Your Station of the Cross 04silence is eloquent. ~ Bl. Titus Brandsma 

Lord, I also want to remain in silence, in this moment, to gather that exchange of infinite love that unites you and your Mother.  I lift my eyes, Jesus, and see you, I stay to look at your face, the eyes of a Son, that reflect the figure of your Mother.  You do not speak, but give your Presence: you give yourself, and you give your Mother.  I receive her as my Lady, my dearest Mother.  

FIFTH STATION: Simon of Cyrene helps carry the cross

"All bear their crosses although these crosses be different. If a person wants to gain freedom of spirit and not always be troubled let him begin by not being frightened by the cross. Then he will see how the Lord helps him carry it." ~ St. John of the Cross Station of the Cross 05

Lord, I am afraid.  I want to flee from every pain, from every trial.  Above all, solitude frightens me, blocks me.  All of those times when the shadow of the cross reappears in my life, I struggle to continue to hope.  Perhaps I am tired by now, Jesus.  But I want to try once more, I want to make myself closer to your heart.  I extend my hand and grasp yours; I offer the little strength I have, the nothing that I am.  Only with you will I be able to carry the cross.

SIXTH STATION: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

”Jesus is not alone on the way of the cross. Today, as then, not only are there adversaries, but there are those who assist him. Representative of those who love Him and wish to assist Him is Veronica.” ~ St. Edith SteinStation of the Cross 06

Lord, I have only one desire in my heart: to be your friend, to walk with you, to share life with you.  I know that you are suffering, walking along the way of sadness.  I see so many people around.  I also come, I search for you, I make myself as close as possible.  I want to love you; nothing else is important to me.  Together with Veronica I search for your face, O You who are my Light!

SEVENTH STATION: Jesus falls the second time

”When you walk in the dark night and in the emptiness of spiritual poverty, you will think that everyone and everything is failing you — including God. But nothing is failing you.” ~ St. John of the CrossStation of the Cross 07

Lord, I miss you!  How can you tell me that you are always near, that you share everything with me?  I feel the solitude, the sadness, the anxiety.  You also fell, under the weight of an infinite pain.  How can I find you again, my Shepherd?  I, the lost sheep, need you.  Rise up again, arise, good Shepherd!  Now I will follow you all the days of my life.

EIGHTH STATION: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

"O Jesus, let me weep for myself, for I am nothing but dry wood to be cast into the fire. But you give new life to the dry wood by grafting it onto the wood of the cross.” ~ Bl. Titus Brandsma Station of the Cross 08

Lord, you are my Fire!  Like poor wood, by now without life, I only want to throw myself into your arms.  Gather me close, I pray!  It does not matter if this means that I will need to be united to the cross of your pain.  Only with you can I be happy again.  Our united tears will become a song of joy.

NINTH STATION: Jesus falls the third time

”Even though you should fall one hundred times, to prove your love for Him, rise each time with even greater strength.” ~ St. Thérèse of Lisieux Station of the Cross 09

Lord, I am ashamed of myself; I fall and fall again, my lose myself, I distance myself, I close myself off.  And when I find myself like this, down and without anymore strength in myself, I then understand that the only thing to do, the only step to take is to enter into myself again, like the lost son of in the parable, and there, in the depths of my soul, to rediscover your love for me.  Clinging to this I can rise up again, only urged on by infinite trust in the tenderness of your friend, O my Savior.

TENTH STATION: Jesus is stripped of his garments

”The soul that is stripped of self and clothed in Jesus Christ has nothing to fear from the exterior world. Therefore I renounce myself each day so that Christ may increase in me.” ~ Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity Station of the Cross 10

Lord, so many times by now, I have felt stripped of everything that I held precious, indispensable to my life.  So many experiences in the world have made me understand that, in the end, nothing remains except your only presence, your faithful love.  I thought, therefore, of leaving behind useless things, perhaps even so many companions that did not bring me to you.  Little by little, I stripped myself and reclothed myself in the most beautiful garment, which is You, O Jesus.

ELEVENTH STATION: Jesus is nailed to the cross

”I resolved to remain in spirit at the foot of the cross and to receive the divine dew, the blood falling to the ground with no one hastening to gather it up. I then understood that I was to pour it out upon souls.” ~ St. Thérèse of Lisieux Station of the Cross 11

Lord, by your grace, I have arrived to this point, at the foot of your cross.  I see you nailed, to the wood, but even more to the pain, to love, to your will to save us.  Every drop of your blood that falls is a promise of a new life, for each one of us, your sons, scattered throughout the world, throughout all times of the poor history of humanity.  As your brother and your friend, O Jesus, I want to learn every day to gather the precious drops of your word for us, of your infinite love, and then, without keeping them for me, I want more and more to give them to all those who I meet along my path.

TWELFTH STATION: Jesus dies on the cross

"Death cannot be bitter for the soul that loves, for in it she finds all the sweetness and delight of love. She rejoices over death as she would over the thought of her betrothal and marriage, and she longs for the day and the hour of her death." ~ St. John of the Cross Station of the Cross 12

Lord, your death is a great school; here I can learn to love, to truly live; here I can find a sense of my life.  Before you, crucified, I see that love and pain are one thing and it is through this that death is defeated and cannot overcome us.  Together with you, even death, every little death in my experience of life, becomes sweet, because now I know that in pain I can find love.  Thank you, Lord Jesus.

THIRTEENTH STATION: Jesus is taken down from the cross

"You will not arrive at what you desire by following your own path, or even by high contemplation; but only through a great humility and a surrender of the heart." ~ St. Thérèse of Lisieux Station of the Cross 13

Lord, I know that there is nothing great, bright or strong for me to present to you.  I have nothing more if not my heart.  After this long walk in your footsteps, through trial and the pain of the cross, I desire only the give you my heart, my love, my life.  I abandon myself to your embrace: I know that you receive me, as I am.

FOURTEENTH STATION: Jesus is laid in the tomb

"The soul must empty itself of all that is not God in order to go to God. . . For Christ, desire to enter into complete nakedness and poverty in everything." ~ St. John of the Cross Station of the Cross 14

Lord, the last step is steep descent, an entrance into the darkness of the tomb.  I hoped, arriving here at the top, to see a clearer light, to receive the beneficial rays of the sun. Instead, it is still not time for this.  However, I choose to remain with you, to descend also in the obscure solitude of the tomb, of the darkness.  I am not afraid, because I believe that your love is stronger; I know that you will raise and give new life also to me.

(Prepared and translated by Carmelite Nuns of Ravenna, Carmelite Vocation Resource, Fr. Emiel Abalahin, O.Carm)


The Way of the Cross with Carmelite Saints
Lunedì, 07 Marzo 2011 22:01

Saturday of Lent

Written by

Elisha left him and, taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them; he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh, and gave it to his people to eat. Then he left and followed Elijah as his attendant. Kg. 19.21



O Lord, who hast mercy upon all,

take away from me my sins,

and mercifully kindle in me

the fire of thy Holy Spirit.

Take away from me the heart of stone,

and give me a heart of flesh,

a heart to love and adore Thee,

a heart to delight in Thee,

to follow and enjoy Thee, for Christ's sake, Amen

St. Ambrose of Milan (AD 339-397)



Lunedì, 07 Marzo 2011 21:50

Friday of Lent

Written by

Contemplation is the inner journey of Carmelites, arising out of the free initiative of God, who touches and transforms us, leading us towards unity of love with him, raising us up so that we may enjoy this gratuitous love and live in his loving presence. Carmelite Constitutions - 17

Father in Heaven,

the light of your truth bestows sight

to the darkness of sinful eyes.

May this season of repentance

bring us the blessing of Your forgiveness

and the gift of Your light.

Grant this through Christ our Lord.

International Committee on English in the Liturgy (ICEL)



Lunedì, 07 Marzo 2011 21:42

Thursday of Lent

Written by

You must use every care to clothe yourselves in God’s armour so that you may be ready to withstand the enemy’s ambush.

Carmelite Rule - 18


Dear Jesus,

You spent 40-days in the desert before you began your ministry to the world. You resisted the temptations offered by the devil, saying no to worldly pleasures and power. Like the prophets before you, 40-days in the desert was preparation for the great mission of your life. As Lent begins, help us to make our lives pure and holy. Give us the grace to willingly make our own self-denials into personal deserts, which will prepare us for your work. Purify our souls in the crucible of this Lenten season, and make our hearts acceptable to you and your Father. Amen.


Lunedì, 07 Marzo 2011 09:02

Ash Wednesday

Written by

You are to fast every day, except Sundays, from the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross until Easter Day, unless bodily sickness or feebleness, or some other good reason, demand a dispensation from the fast; for necessity overrides every law. Carmelite Rule - 16

God of Compassion, on this day of ashes and comfort for all remind me once more that I belong to You, that I come from You and to You I go. Open my heart, my mind, and my hands so that I may give You my sins, receive Your forgiveness, and recommit myself once more to love with tenderness, to act with justice, and to walk humbly by Your side. (from USCCB)



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