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“Dear brothers and sisters, let us renew the promises of our Baptism: let us renounce Satan and all his works and seductions—for he is a seducer—in order to follow the path of God and arrive at Easter in the joy of the Spirit.”

-from The Hope of Lent

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“In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

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“Pray, hope and don’t worry. Anxiety doesn’t help at all. Our Merciful Lord will listen to your prayer.”

— Saint Padre Pio

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“Free me from evil passions and heal my heart of all disorderly affections, that being healed and well purified in my interior, I may become fit to love, courageous to suffer and constant to persevere. Love is an excellent thing, a great good indeed, which alone maketh light all that is burdened and makes all that which is bitter sweet and savory. The love of Jesus is noble and generous; it spurs us on to do great things and excites us to desire always that which is most perfect.”

— Thomas á Kempis

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Reflection

Saintly people are not protected from suffering, but with God’s help they learn how to develop compassion from it. In the face of great suffering, we move either toward compassion or indifference. Saintly men and women show us the path toward compassion.

 

“Cheerfulness strengthens the heart and makes us persevere in a good life. Therefore the servant of God ought always to be in good spirits.”

— St. Philip Neri

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“True strength is not found in being stubborn or arrogant. It is found in allowing the Holy Spirit to dwell in one’s heart so that one might be open to the Spirit’s promptings. It is that Spirit Who frees us from our selfishness, for the Spirit reminds us that God is supposed to be the center of who we are and what we do.”

— Rev. Jude Winkler

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“Let us pray to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for all the graces that we need to be a brilliant light and a holy comfort to others each and every day in this darkened and sometimes frightening world. Don’t forget to offer your sufferings to God and to make sacrifices to save souls.”

-from Our Lady of Fatima

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“The school of Christ is the school of love. In the last day, when the general examination takes place … Love will be the whole syllabus.”

— St. Robert Bellarmine

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“Set free from human judgment, we should count as true only what God sees in us, what he knows, and what he judges. God does not judge as man does. Man sees only the countenance, only the exterior. God penetrates to the depths of our hearts. God does not change as man does. His judgment is in no way inconstant. He is the only one upon whom we should rely. How happy we are then, and how peaceful! We are no longer dazzled by appearances, or stirred up by opinions; we are united to the truth and depend upon it alone. I am praised, blamed, treated with indifference, disdained, ignored, or forgotten; none of this can touch me. I will be no less than I am. Men and women want to play at being a creator. They want to give me existence in their opinion, but this existence that they want to give me is nothingness. It is an illusion, a shadow, an appearance, that is, at bottom, nothingness. What is this shadow, always following me, behind me, at my side? Is it me, or something that belongs to me? No. Yet does not this shadow seem to move with me? No matter: it is not me. So it is with the judgements of men: they would follow me everywhere, paint me, sketch me, make me move according to their whim, and, in the end, give me some sort of existence … but I am disabused of this error. I am content with a hidden life. How peaceful it is! Whether I truly live this Christian life of which St. Paul speaks, I do not know, nor can I know with certainty. But I hope that I do, and I trust in God’s goodness to help me.”

— Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet

REJOICE!

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“O man, when the world hates you and is faithless toward you, think of your God, how he was struck and spat upon. You should not accuse your neighbor of guilt, but pray to God that he be merciful to you both.”

— St. Nicholas of Flue

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“This world is filled with many vulgar and dishonorable things that will claw and tear at your Christian purity if you allow them to. Don’t let them! Seek instead the things of God. He will purify you and free you from your slavery to profane and inconsequential things.”

— Patrick Madrid

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“Following in the footsteps of the sinless One who took on our shame and guilt so that we need no longer carry it is the pathway every saint has walked and every aspiring saint must follow. When we are clean through the graces of the sacrament of reconciliation, remembering death becomes not a morbid preoccupation, but a sign of hope—for ourselves and for all those who look at us and see the likeness of the Savior.”

-from Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta

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“Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.”

— St. Rose of Lima

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“The queen bee never settles in her hive without being surrounded by her swarm, and charity never takes possession of the heart without bringing in her train all other virtues, exercising them and bringing them into play as a general his troops. But she does not call them forth suddenly, all at once, nor in all times and places. The good man is like a tree planted by the water-side that will bring forth its fruit in due season, because when a soul is watered with charity, it brings forth good works seasonably and with discretion.”

— St. Francis de Sales

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Reading 1 Is 7:10-14; 8:10

The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God;
let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered,
“I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!”
Then Isaiah said:
Listen, O house of David!
Is it not enough for you to weary people,
must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us!”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 40:7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 11

  1. (8a and 9a) Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
    Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
    but ears open to obedience you gave me.
    Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not;
    then said I, “Behold I come.”
    R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
    “In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
    To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
    and your law is within my heart!”
    R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
    I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
    I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
    R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
    Your justice I kept not hid within my heart;
    your faithfulness and your salvation I have spoken of;
    I have made no secret of your kindness and your truth
    in the vast assembly.
    R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Reading 2 Heb 10:4-10

Brothers and sisters:
It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats
take away sins.
For this reason, when Christ came into the world, he said:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight.
Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll,
behold, I come to do your will, O God.'”

First he says, “Sacrifices and offerings,
holocausts and sin offerings,
you neither desired nor delighted in.”
These are offered according to the law.
Then he says, “Behold, I come to do your will.”
He takes away the first to establish the second.
By this “will,” we have been consecrated
through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Verse Before the Gospel Jn 1:14b

The Word of God became flesh and made his dwelling among us;
and we saw his glory.

Gospel Lk 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

 

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The Annunciation of the Lord
Bishop Robert Barron

Friends, our Gospel today introduces the most important Advent personage: Mary, the Mother of God. The Church Fathers often made a connection between Eve, the mother of all the living, and Mary, the Mother of God and Mother of the Church. In fact, they saw her as “the new Eve,” the one who undid the damage done by Eve.

The angel’s greeting to Mary is important here: “Hail Mary, full of grace.” Mary is greeted as someone who is able to accept gifts. Eve and Adam grasped; Mary is ready to receive. And Mary’s reply is also significant: “How is this possible, for I do not know man?” There is nothing cowed about Mary.

The angel explains to Mary: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…” At the heart of the spiritual life is the conviction that your life is not about you. The real spiritual life is about allowing oneself to be overwhelmed by the one who loves us. Mary is someone who is ready for the impossible, and this makes her the paradigm of discipleship. “Let it be done to me according to thy word.” That’s an acquiescence to adventure.

“Fasting is not an end in itself but instead is, like prayer and the works of mercy, an expression of who we are before God and in relation to others. Fasting should make us generous, not self-righteous. Lord Jesus, show me the difference between what I truly need and what I may simply want.”

-from Peace and Good

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“Pope Francis encourages us to recall during this Lenten season that our salvation lies in God alone. We can take comfort in the fact that Jesus himself was tempted by evil things. Seeing his battle with his adversary in more human and less cosmic terms can help us when we’re struggling with temptation.”

-from The Hope of Lent

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“God of life, we are grateful for the many gifts that you have given to us. May we become prudent stewards of your many gifts and not thoughtlessly waste water, food, and other resources. May we respond to your Son’s cry of thirst with lives of peacemaking and just action. We make his prayer in your name. Amen.”

-from The Last Words of Jesus 

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“If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.”

— St. Maximilian Kolbe

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“When will the happy time come when the divine Mary will be established Mistress and Queen of all hearts, in order that she may subject them fully to the empire of her great and holy Jesus? When will souls breathe Mary as the body breathes air? When that time comes, wonderful things will happen in those lowly places where the Holy Ghost, finding His dear spouse, as it were, reproduced, in all souls, shall come in with abundance, and fill them to overflowing with His gifts, and particularly with the gift of wisdom, to work miracles of grace.”

— St. Louis de Montfort

“Lord Jesus, as I travel through my Lenten journey, I confess that I still have far to go on the “road of reconciliation.” Give me the courage I need to follow you, as Saint Teresa did, even when the road is hard. Holy Spirit, work in me so that one day I too might be a saint! Saint Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!”

-from Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta

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“The Divine Heart is an ocean full of all good things, wherein poor souls can cast all their needs; it is an ocean full of joy to drown all our sadness, an ocean of humility to drown our folly, an ocean of mercy to those in distress, an ocean of love in which to submerge our poverty.”

— St. Margaret Mary

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“If during vocal prayer your heart is drawn to mental prayer, do not restrain it, but let your devotion take that channel, omitting the vocal prayers which you intended to say: that which takes their place is more acceptable to God, and more useful to your own soul.”

— St. Francis de Sales

Holy Trinity, Blessed Mother & Saint Joseph

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“Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, Our Lady of Fatima, our dear Mother in Heaven, please pray for us. Please help our world! We are comforted knowing that your Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

-from Our Lady of Fatima

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“We have close to us as much as Joseph had at Nazareth; we have our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, but our poor eyes fail to see Him. Let us once become interior souls and we shall immediately see. In no better way can we enter into the Heart of our Lord than through Saint Joseph. Jesus and Mary are eager to pay the debts which they owe him for his devoted care of them, and their greatest pleasure is to fulfill his least desire. Let him, then, lead you by hand into the interior sanctuary of Jesus Eucharistic.”

— St. Peter Julian Eymard

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“When God breathed His Spirit into Adam, it was not only to make him a living creature. That same Holy Spirit also gave him insight into the things of God. We, as creatures, cannot hope to understand the mysteries of our faith on our own, but with the gift of the Spirit we have an insight into those mysteries from within our own hearts.”

— St. Francis de Sales

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