Lenten Reflection Series: Mirroring God’s Perfect Love for Others

Throughout the season of Lent, we’re featuring the Millennial Lenten Reflection Series co-sponsored by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Franciscan Mission Service. Each small reflection will be written by a young person, focusing on that day’s Mass reading. You can sign up for the series here.

Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers and sisters only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Why do bad things happen to good people? This question is repeated time and time again in our culture. What we often fail to see in these moments is that “bad things” are not always bad from every perspective and that these types of things happen to all people. In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us that God “makes the sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and unjust.” Because we are human, we face certain limitations when we try to understand God’s plan, when we try to comprehend why these seemingly bad things happen to good people. When we allow God to work through us and we have faith, we move beyond these limitations. Giving up control to God makes it easier to be less controlling in our own lives. We have less of an urge to demand answers, and we become at peace with the notion that we will never know God’s entire plan.

Jesus asks us to put our trust in God without knowing the full picture. He asks us to be as perfect as God, which may seem like a daunting task, though he realizes that we will inevitably fall short. Although humans are all imperfect, God loves us still. As God continues to show us love despite our imperfections, we should strive to mirror God’s perfect love for others this Lenten season.

Jes Stevens is a Loretto Volunteer working for Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good in Washington D.C. 


Lenten Reflection Series: For Everyone Who Asks, Receives

Throughout the season of Lent, we’re featuring the Millennial Lenten Reflection Series co-sponsored by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Franciscan Mission Service. Each small reflection will be written by a young person, focusing on that day’s Mass reading. You can sign up for the series here.

I can’t remember when I realized I wanted to go on mission.  I think it’s always been a part of me, but the two mission trips I went on in college propelled me to pursue mission long-term.  After two months on mission in Guatemala, I’m reassured everyday that this is where I’m called to be.  I wake up daily with a full heart for the people I’m meeting, the experiences I’m having, and the challenges I’m facing. But these feelings didn’t magically appear.

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us, “For everyone who asks, receives.” Being on mission makes me question how I can receive that grace.  For me, the answer comes through the Prayer of Saint Francis. The line “For it is in giving that we receive” helped me realized that I receive God’s grace through giving. Giving of myself—my love and my heart.

Lent is about taking what we have received from God and sharing that with others, in service to them. Mission has given me the opportunity to take the grace I’ve received from God and share it with all those I encounter this Lent.

Amanda Ceraldi, originally from Pasadena, Maryland is a recent graduate of The Catholic University of America, where she studied Theology and Peace and Justice Studies.  She is currently serving at Valley of the Angels Orphanage in Guatemala with Franciscan Mission Service.


Lenten Reflection Series: Bringing Joy and Love into the World

Throughout the season of Lent, we’re featuring the Millennial Lenten Reflection Series co-sponsored by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Franciscan Mission Service. Each small reflection will be written by a young person, focusing on that day’s Mass reading. You can sign up for the series here.

“A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me.” (Psalms 51:12)

Lent reminds us of the warmth and good news that follows the cold and darkness of the winter season. For me, Lent is a time to reflect on both the present and future. In much of the United States, people are struggling with bitter winter conditions. Throughout the struggles of winter, we look forward to and prepare for the coming of spring. Spring, like Lent, promises new life and new opportunities.

It’s during the difficult winter season where we must decide what to do with the new life and new beginnings spring offers. That’s why reflection, repentance and fasting during the Lenten period is so important. We must each ask the question, ‘what can I do to bring joy and love into this world?’

I plan on answering that question by continuing to try to give a voice to the voiceless.

Stephen Seufert is the State Director for Keystone Catholics.


Lenten Reflection Series: The Lord’s Prayer

Throughout the season of Lent, we’re featuring the Millennial Lenten Reflection Series co-sponsored by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Franciscan Mission Service. Each small reflection will be written by a young person, focusing on that day’s Mass reading. You can sign up for the series here.

Today’s gospel gives us the Lord’s Prayer.  A staple of Christian tradition, the Lord’s Prayer can be a comfortable balm, words that flow easily and effortlessly off the tongue. Having repeated the words countless times in our lives, the Lord’s Prayer is like the macaroni-and-cheese of prayer; a comfortable go-to.

Several years ago, I kept a little envelope pinned next to my front door.  Each day, upon leaving, I drew a slip of paper, each of which had one line of the Lord’s Prayer. That randomly selected line served as my meditation and inspiration for the day.

In this format, I began to recognize just how challenging the words of this prayer could be.

It was difficult to live in the daily spirit of “thy will be done,” when I usually spend much of my day focused on what I want. In the abstract, the line “as we forgive those who trespass against us” resonates with me, but it was hard to take to heart while getting cut off on the freeway.

Sometimes we need the comfort of familiarity washing over us; other times we are called to stretch ourselves. Today’s gospel gives us both, in one prayer.

Jenny Heipp is a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology at Washington University in Saint Louis.


Lenten Reflection Series: Back to Basics

Throughout the season of Lent, we’re featuring the Millennial Lenten Reflection Series co-sponsored by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Franciscan Mission Service. Each small reflection will be written by a young person, focusing on that day’s Mass reading. You can sign up for the series here.

“We need to get back to basics.”  It’s something you might hear a cigar-chomping football coach yelling during practice.  “You’ve got to block! You’ve got to make your tackles!” All obvious things, of course, but that doesn’t mean that the team doesn’t need reminders every once and a while.

That’s what today’s first reading is all about.  What’s more basic than, “You shall not steal! You shall not lie!” Again, all obvious things… and yet our cigar-chomping God (why not?) realizes that “Team Humanity” needs reminders on the basics.  And during these pep talks, we usually find ourselves reflecting on how well (or poorly) we have been running these plays in our personal lives.

Of course, personal morality is only half of the story.  The Gospel serves as a reminder that our communal morality is just as important as our personal morality.  Not telling lies is important, but so is feeding the hungry and visiting the prisoner.  Like a good football team needs a good offense as well as defense, we need to have a good communal morality as well as a personal morality.

So during Lent, let’s get out there and show ‘em what we’ve got!

Fr. Tom Gibbons, CSP is a member of the Paulist Fathers and is currently serving as the administrator of St. Peter’s Church in Toronto, Canada.  He has also frequently contributed to BustedHalo.com.


Lenten Reflection Series: Believe, God Will Renew All Creation

“See, I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you.” (Genesis 9:8)

Today’s scriptures remind that we need renewal these 40 days. Our world is filled with many beautiful things, yet too many people suffer from poverty and violence.  Facing this suffering can be overwhelming and cause us to narrow our vision and hearts. When dreaming of the future, we rarely look beyond the horizon of our studies, our jobs, or our desire for a family.  We’ve become these “spirits in prison” who need the gospel proclamation: “the Kingdom of God is near.” These words invite us to dream of a future when the poor are consoled, when peace is real, when God is with us.

We must not be the people in Noah’s time refusing to believe change is possible. For God promises He will renew all creation through his covenant people—us. When we accept this promise, God’s Word will liberate us from selfish and narrow horizons. We will become audacious and enthusiastic (etymology: “filled with God”) in facing our world’s real sufferings and in proclaiming the good news, both in word and acts.

by Charlie Gardner


Lenten Reflection Series: To Serve Others

Throughout the season of Lent, we’re featuring the Millennial Lenten Reflection Series co-sponsored by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Franciscan Mission Service. Each small reflection will be written by a young person, focusing on that day’s Mass reading. You can sign up for the series here.

Sometimes the question comes up of why we should even pray, fast, or give alms during Lent when the Lord our Savior has already given his life for us. But when I consider this practice and think about today’s first reading, Is 58:9B-14, what comes to mind is a constant need to be aware of “the other” and to be at service to “the other.” “If you hold back your foot on the Sabbath from following your own pursuits on my holy day…” (Is 58:13) — there is a death to self that is required by all on the Sabbath.

Our death to self, death to our sins is what perfects the very image of Christ we are called to be in the world. It reflects the death to self that the Son of God endured (even in all His glory and beauty) when he died on the Cross. The way in which we answer the call to serve others is the same death to ourselves that also requires us to submit to Jesus’ call to follow him, as he asks the tax collector in the gospel reading.

Casey Bustamante works in full-time young adult ministry with the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA in Washington, DC. She is also a recent Air Force Veteran, having served 6 years active duty both stateside and abroad.