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Franciscan author Richard Rohr helps us travel day-by-day through Lent in this condensation from his book Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent.

Wondrous Encounters: Day by Day through Lent
By: Richard Rohr, O.F.M.


Each issue carries an imprimatur from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Reprinting prohibited
Ash Wednesday
2 Cor 5:20—6:2
It seems that we need beginnings, or everything eventually devolves and declines into unnecessary and sad endings. You were made for so much more! So today you must pray for the desire to desire!
 
Thursday
Dt 30:15-20; Lk 9:22-25
We must place our bet, set our trajectory, make a choice, surrender to the Great Love...just be ready for the trials and confusion into which this clear choice will lead you.
 
Friday
Is 58:1-9a; Mt 9:14-15
Isaiah makes a very upfront demand for social justice, non-aggression, taking our feet off the necks of the oppressed, sharing our bread with the hungry, clothing the naked, letting go of our sense of entitlement. How often we miss the point!
 
Saturday
Is 58:9b-14; Lk 5:27-32
“God, where am I trapped and unable to see it?” That may be the best starter prayer for Lent. 
  
 First week of Lent 
 
Sunday
Mt 4:1-11; Mk 1:12-15; Lk 4:1-13
In all three years of the lectionary cycle, the Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent is devoted to the temptation of Jesus in the desert. Examining temptations is a good way to begin Lent. Most people’s daily ethical choices are not between total good and total evil, but between various shades of good, a partial good that is wrongly perceived as an absolute good (because of the self as the central reference point), or even evil that disguises itself as good. These are what get us into trouble.
 
Monday
Lv 19:1-2, 11-18; Mt 25:31-46
Jesus’ “commandments” go far beyond mere boundary-keeping. They actually move beyond all boundaries to take care of those who did not make it, do not fit in. These are the outsider, the criminal, the vulnerable and the weak. It is quite a leap.
 
Tuesday
Is 55:10-11; Mt 6:7-15
Forgiveness is not some churchy technique or formula. Forgiveness is constant from God’s side, which should become a calm, joyous certainty on our side.
 
Wednesday
Jon 3:1-10; Lk 11:29-32
Faith is the leap into the water, now with the lived experience that there is One who can and will catch you—and lead you where you need to go!
 
Thursday
Est C 12, 14-16, 23-25; Mt 7:7-12
God seems to plant within us the desire to pray for what God already wants to give us. Even better, it’s what God has already begun to give to us!
 
Friday
Ez 18:21-28; Mt 5:20-26
Human consciousness is ready to be invited by Jesus beyond mere external observance of rights and wrongs, to inner attitudes, motivations, judgments and opinions.
 
Saturday
Dt 26:16-19; Mt 5:43-48
You are to love with the same kind of love that God loves you, which is total unconditional love. This is the summit, the goal of all Jesus’ moral teaching. 
  
Second week of Lent
 
Sunday
Mt 17:1-9; Mk 9:2-10; Lk 9:28b-36 
After this awesome and consoling epiphany, there is clear mention of “a cloud that overshadows” everything. We have what appears to be full light, yet there is still darkness. Knowing, yet not knowing. Getting it, and yet not getting it at all. Isn’t that the very character of all true Mystery and every in-depth encounter?
 
Monday
Dn 9:4b-10; Lk 6:36-38
It appears that humans can only know themselves through the gaze of others. We call it mirroring.
Good parents, like God, naturally bless the child through their receptive and affirming faces.
 
Tuesday
Is 1:10, 16-20; Mt 23:1-12
Nothing any of us could say today would match Jesus’ anger and judgment on hypocrisy in
spiritual leadership and self-serving religious authority.
 
Wednesday
Jer 18:18-20; Mt 20:17-28
Jesus, against all odds, expectations and human programming, insists that we make the preemptive and positive move into “drinking of the cup” ourselves instead of always asking others to drink it.
 
Thursday
Jer 17:5-10; Lk 16:19-31
We will all receive exactly what our lives say we really want and desire: Love is always torment for the hateful. Final torment is impossible for the loving.
 
Friday
Gn 37:3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28a; Mt 21:33-43, 45-46
I know that any kind of defeat or humiliation is not the American way, but it is surely the biblical way. There the pattern is rather clear, and there is no going up until you go down.
 
Saturday
Mi 7:14-15, 18-20; Lk 15:1-3, 11-32
The story that is strangely called “The Prodigal Son” is much more about “The Prodigious Father” who seems to love to excess! All scholars seem to agree that this story most perfectly represents Jesus’ active and operative image of his personal experience of God. 
 
Third week of Lent
 
Sunday
Ex 17:3-7; Rom 5:1-2, 5-8; Jn 4:5-42
This long and truly mystical Gospel story of the Samaritan woman at the well was already used by the early Church in immediate preparation of the new candidates for Baptism on Holy Saturday. All the elements of invitation, disclosure, unfolding levels of meaning, intimacy, reciprocity and enlightenment are here for the taking. This multi-leveled story surely deserves our overall theme of a “wondrous loop” of giver, given and gift. The whole point of the story of the Woman at the Well is that unless you experience the Spirit, which Jesus says is “the water that I will give which will turn into a spring within you, welling up unto eternal life” (4:14), the whole thing falls apart.
 
Monday
2 Kgs 5:1-15b; Lk 4:24-30
The insider often misses the grace, while the outsider gets it.
 
Tuesday
Dn 3:25, 34-43; Mt 18:21-35
Jesus invites all of us in this rather easy-to-understand story into God’s nonsensical loving “from the heart.”
 
Wednesday
Dt 4:1, 5-9; Mt 5:17-19
Jesus knows that laws and dogmas are not goals or ends in themselves, and in that he disagrees with much immature religion, but they are a necessary beginning point.
 
Thursday
Jer 7:23-28; Lk 11:14-23
When you try to fight evil, you are invariably accused of doing evil yourself. Isn’t that interesting and strange? Read history, and especially the lives of whistleblowers, justice seekers and peace workers.
 
Friday
Hos 14:2-10; Mk 12:28-34
Hosea’s wife became the image of the soul before God. Think about that awhile.
 
Saturday
Hos 6:1-6; Lk 18:9-14
Jesus is never upset at sinners! He is only upset with people who do not think they are sinners.


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Fourth week of Lent
 
Sunday
1 Sm 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a; Eph 5:8-14; Jn 9:1-41
As Christianity’s High Holy Days draw near, this Sunday of the “Second Scrutiny” of the catechumens revolves entirely around the theme of light and seeing things truthfully. This problem is at the heart of what almost all ancients saw as the “tragic sense of life.” Our lack of self-knowledge and our lack of wisdom make humans do very stupid and self-destructive things. Because humans cannot see their own truth very well, they do not read reality very well either. We all have our tragic flaws and blind spots. Humans always need more “light” or enlightenment about themselves and about the endless mystery of God.
 
Monday
Is 65:17-21; Jn 4:43-54
The circle of the biblical revelation keeps widening to create that “new earth” of Isaiah. Christians, early on, call themselves catholic or universal. Here comes everybody!
 
Tuesday
Ez 47:1-9, 12; Jn 5:1-16
Jesus mirrors his best self for the paralytic man. He gives him back his own power.
 
Wednesday
Is 49:8-15; Jn 5:17-30
Each of us is our own truthful judge and our own best friend if we but look honestly into the perfect and compassionate Divine Mirror: Jesus, the Son.
 
Thursday
Ex 32:7-14; Jn 5:31-47
Prayer, more than anything, seeks, creates and preserves relationship—which is always both giving and receiving.
 
Friday
Wis 2:1a, 12-22; Jn 7:1-2, 10, 25-30
Vengeance is often an open but denied secret when fear and gossip reign in a society.
 
Saturday
Jer 11:18-20; Jn 7:40-53
As people become more afraid and insecure, they do not know how to access their own soul, move to prayer, or toward their better instincts. 
 
Fifth week of Lent
 
Sunday
Ez 37:12-14; Rom 8:8-11; Jn 11:1-45
In a brilliant finale to the Lazarus story, Jesus invites the onlookers to join him in making resurrection happen: “Move the stone away!...Unbind him, and let him go free!” It seems that we have a part to play in creating a culture of life and resurrection. We must unbind one another from our fears and doubts about the last enemy, death. We must now “see that the world is bathed in light” and allow others to enjoy the same seeing—through our lived life. The stone to be moved is always our fear of death, the finality of death, any blindness that keeps us from seeing that death is merely a part of the Larger Mystery called Life. It does not have the final word.
 
Monday
Dn 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62; Jn 8:1-11
Jesus’ love is so gracious and universal that, looking down, he even wanted to save them from the condemnation of his eyes: “Neither do I condemn you,” he says to both the woman and the men.
 
Tuesday
Nm 21:4-9; Jn 8:21-30
We need to “lift up” and “gaze upon” the crucifix, the transformative image, just as Moses first did the serpent in the desert.
 
Wednesday
Dn 3:14-20, 91-92, 95;
Jn 8:31-42

Most Christians would probably be slow to admit that by these criteria almost all of us would have opposed Jesus: “This is not our tradi­tion! He is not from our group! He has no credentials!”
 
Thursday
Gn 17:3-9; Jn 8:51-59
Many never get beyond “religion as requirements.” What does your religion require of you?
 
Friday
Jer 20:10-13; Jn 10:31-42
They “try to arrest” Jesus, just as much of Christian history has arrested, feared and denied any message of actual union with God.
 
Saturday
Ez 37:21-28; Jn 11:45-56
There are still two ways of gathering, the way of fear and hate and the way of love. But do not yourself be afraid, because Jesus is still “gathering.” 
  
Holy Week/Triduum 
 
Palm Sunday
Is 50:4-7; Phil 2:6-11; Mt 26:14—27:66
Jesus is set as the human blueprint, the standard in the sky, the oh-so-hopeful pattern of divine transformation. Who would have presumed that the way up could be the way down? It is, as Paul says, “the secret mystery.” Trust the down, and God will take care of the up. This leaves humanity in solidarity with the life cycle, but also with one another, with no need to create success stories for itself, or to create failure stories for others. Humanity in Jesus is free to be human and soulful instead of any false climbing into “Spirit.” This was supposed to change everything, and it still will.
 
Monday
Is 42:1-7; Jn 12:1-11
“There will always be poor in the land. I command you therefore, always be open-handed with anyone in the country who is in need or is poor” (Dt 15:11). Unfortunately, only the first phrase is quoted in the Gospel text.
 
Tuesday
Is 49:1-6; Jn 13:21-33, 36-38
The more love and hope you have invested in another person, the deeper is the pain of betrayal.
 
Wednesday
Is 50:4-9a; Mt 26:14-25
Faithful Jesus, your faith was tried just like mine, but even more. Give me courage to do the same in the time of trial.
 
Sacred Triduum
All pivots around the Triduum, and this necessary transformation of the soul. Yes, Jesus is the one who walks it consciously first, but it is so that we can trustfully follow.


Richard Rohr is a Franciscan priest and founding director of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This Update is condensed from the book Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent, by Richard Rohr (St. Anthony Messenger Press).

NEXT: Changes in the Mass by Fr. Rick Hilgartner

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Bernadette Soubirous: Bernadette Soubirous was born in 1844, the first child of an extremely poor miller in the town of Lourdes in southern France. The family was living in the basement of a dilapidated building when on February 11,1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette in a cave above the banks of the Gave River near Lourdes. Bernadette, 14 years old, was known as a virtuous girl though a dull student who had not even made her first Holy Communion. In poor health, she had suffered from asthma from an early age. 
<p>There were 18 appearances in all, the final one occurring on the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, July 16. Although Bernadette's initial reports provoked skepticism, her daily visions of "the Lady" brought great crowds of the curious. The Lady, Bernadette explained, had instructed her to have a chapel built on the spot of the visions. There the people were to come to wash in and drink of the water of the spring that had welled up from the very spot where Bernadette had been instructed to dig. </p><p>According to Bernadette, the Lady of her visions was a girl of 16 or 17 who wore a white robe with a blue sash. Yellow roses covered her feet, a large rosary was on her right arm. In the vision on March 25 she told Bernadette, "I am the Immaculate Conception." It was only when the words were explained to her that Bernadette came to realize who the Lady was. </p><p>Few visions have ever undergone the scrutiny that these appearances of the Immaculate Virgin were subject to. Lourdes became one of the most popular Marian shrines in the world, attracting millions of visitors. Miracles were reported at the shrine and in the waters of the spring. After thorough investigation Church authorities confirmed the authenticity of the apparitions in 1862. </p><p>During her life Bernadette suffered much. She was hounded by the public as well as by civic officials until at last she was protected in a convent of nuns. Five years later she petitioned to enter the Sisters of Notre Dame. After a period of illness she was able to make the journey from Lourdes and enter the novitiate. But within four months of her arrival she was given the last rites of the Church and allowed to profess her vows. She recovered enough to become infirmarian and then sacristan, but chronic health problems persisted. She died on April 16, 1879, at the age of 35. </p><p>She was canonized in 1933.</p> American Catholic Blog In humility, a woman ultimately forgets 
herself; forgets both her shortcomings and accomplishments equally and 
strives to remain empty of self to make room for Jesus, just as Mary 
did.

 
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CATHOLIC GREETINGS
Wednesday of Holy Week
Today join Catholics around the world in offering prayers for our Pope Emeritus on his 87th birthday.
Tuesday of Holy Week
Today keep in prayer all the priests and ministers throughout the world who will preside at Holy Week services.
Monday of Holy Week
Holy Week reminds us of the price Jesus paid for our salvation. Take time for prayer at home and at church.
Palm Sunday
Holy Week services and prayers invite us to follow Jesus into Jerusalem, experiencing the events of his passion and death.
Praying for You
As they grow closer to the Easter sacraments, your parish’s RCIA candidates welcome your prayers.



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