Categories
Conversion Faith Formation Ink Slingers Kerri Prayer

Lectio Divina: The Fifth Sunday of Lent (Year A)

What does it take for you to believe in Jesus? Or what did it take? Was it being knocked over and struck with blindness like St. Paul. Or maybe it was witnessing a miracle. Do miracles even happen any more? I believe they do, if we’re open and willing to see them. This Sunday’s Gospel had me thinking about miracles. As we approach Easter I’m trying to look at Jesus’ miracles in a new way.

It’s hard to approach something in a new way, especially if we’ve been hearing it our whole life. I believe this is why the Church year is set up in a cyclical fashion, so we are challenged to continuously read the life of Jesus and see it in new ways each time. Which brings us to the beauty of lectio divina. Lectio is the ultimate challenge of praying with the text and allowing God to show you some new aspect of it. When you are praying with this passage remember that you are not necessarily trying to understand everything from the passage (and this one is a long one!) you are giving God the opportunity to point out something to you that you need to hear today. A year from now you may read the same passage and God will want to tell you something different. What he shares with you may be very different from what he has shared with me.

With that in mind I invite you to locate the Gospel for this coming Sunday (in your own missal or other publication or you can find it on the USCCB website) and join me as we read, reflect, respond, and rest in God’s Word. For a brief review of the lectio divina steps, I recommend this brief explanation from the Archabbey of St. Meinrad.

READ

  • I am the resurrection
  • Jesus wept
  • Thank you for hearing me
  • Began to believe in him

REFLECT: What is God saying to you?

I really have to step back and put myself in the mindset of the people in this reading who are witnessing the miracle Jesus performs. I forget how absolutely astounding it must have been to see a dead man walk out of his tomb. I feel like the last sentence of this very long Gospel passage is a bit of an understatement. I also wonder who walked away not believing. It doesn’t say that “all” began to believe, but that “many” began to believe. How could you not believe?? Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. He was bound in burial bands and his face was wrapped in a cloth. And yet, he walked out of the tomb! It’s miraculous!

Miracles are something that we forget about often. We are surrounded by so much technology and the modern world has made it it’s mission to prove everything by science. It’s easy to forget that miracles are not just something that happened once upon a time. They still surround us today if we just open our eyes to see them. For me, I used to find it rather useless to pray for things that seemed an impossibility. More recently I was reminded that Jesus is a worker of miracles. This Gospel passage pretty much drives home that message. Now when I go to the adoration chapel for my weekly hour, I regularly thank Jesus for the miracles he performs and I ask him to work miracles for the intentions I bring before him. No matter how impossible they seem to me, I continue to beg him for the miracles I know, sincerely know, he can perform.

Something else that stuck out to me in this reading was just before Lazarus is raised from the dead, Jesus prays to God the Father and the first thing he does is thank him for hearing him. Sometimes I feel as if my prayers consist entirely of thanking God for my blessings. Which is all good, but then I forget to pray for other things, too. I was reminded here that God likes to receive our prayers of thanksgiving. Even Jesus, his own son, begins his prayer with a prayer of thanksgiving. It’s a nice reminder that when we pray, we should offer all our thanks to God first before asking him to then consider our intentions.

RESPOND: What do you want to say to God?

Reflecting on the miracles that God works each and every day, I’m reminded of some particular prayer intentions I’m always bringing before God. Sometimes I find it difficult to imagine that these particular intentions could come to fulfillment. But then I remind myself that God works miracles and nothing is impossible for him. What may look impossible from my perspective may look very possible from his. I only have to trust. This passage reminded me that even impossible things can happen.

Thank you, God, for the blessings in my life and for the many small miracles that happen each day. I pray for those who do not believe in you that they may be reminded of your love and presence in their life and will come to believe.

REST

Read the passage one final time and spend a few moments in quiet contemplation, rest in the words of the Gospel.

YOUR TURN

What do you feel God is saying to you in this passage? How would you respond to him? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Categories
Ink Slingers Instagram Photo Challenge Rita

2016 Advent Photo Challenge

csadvent2016

Advent begins in less than 1 week! At Catholic Sistas we love helping you prepare for and reflect on the liturgical seasons. Some people began preparing for Advent 6 weeks ago with the Christmas Shopping Challenge that we released last year, and others have taken time to review The Official 2016 Catholic Christmas Gift Guide and Giveaway, and enter the giveaway.

Another way we love preparing for and reflecting on the liturgical seasons is through our Advent and Lent Photo Challenges. As a visual person, I love the opportunity to explore, express and share my Advent season reflections and preparation for Christmas. And so I’m excited to again co-lead the 2016 Advent Photo Challenge.

Each Photo Challenge allows us to share in images and words how the Holy Spirit stirs our hearts, minds and souls in seeing God daily. Some of the words in the Photo Challenge word-of-the-day are relatively easy, and some of them are pretty darn hard. But that’s just like our relationship with God. Sometimes it’s easy to visualize God in our lives, and other times we must deeply reflect and consider how God is present in our lives. But that’s part of what makes a Photo Challenge a great opportunity for reflection in Advent and Lent.

And so I invite all our readers to join my fellow photo-happy friends, BRITTANYADRIENNEROSEMARYCINDY and KRISTIN (and find me HERE) in the 2016 Advent Photo Challenge.

Please know you don’t have to be part of the social media world to participate in the 2016 Advent Photo Challenge! While it’s definitely fun to share your photos and reflections with others, if the Advent Photo Challenge provides you with an opportunity to reflect on the season of Advent and prepare for Christmas, than that’s what counts.

To help you in your challenge, below you’ll find the whats, hows and hashtag info for joining the 2016 Advent Photo Challenge. I’m excited to get started on this photo challenge with y’all next week and to see how the Holy Spirit moves us all to reflect on the season of Advent and share our Catholic faith. Happy clicking (or touching your phone screen)!

How the 2016 Advent Photo Challenge Works

• Each day has a word associated with it. Snap a photo or find an old photo related to that word. The photo does not have to be faith-themed, as the goal of our photo challenges is for us to see God in our everyday lives.

• Use the hashtag #CSAdvent and any other appropriate hashtags (#wreath, #candle, #Catholic, etc) when you post your Photo Challenge photos. This allows us all to search Instagram and other social media platforms for others who are participating in the Photo Challenge. (CSAdvent = Catholic Sistas Advent)

• While our main platforms for the 2016 Advent Photo Challenge are Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, we are present on many other platforms. Tag us with @CatholicSistas on INSTAGRAMPINTEREST and FACEBOOK, @Catholic_Sistas on TWITTER and +CatholicSistas on GOOGLE+. And if you’re blogging about your Advent Photo Challenge, link back to us or comment below with a link to your post.

• Download the 2016 CSAdvent Graphic for quick reference. Note that the dates of the weekends are a different color to help visually break up the days. Be sure to share the graphic with others and invite them to join the challenge too!

cs-advent-2016