“The cross of ashes, traced upon the forehead of each Christian, is not only a reminder of death but inevitably (though tacitly) a pledge of resurrection. The ashes of a Christian are no longer mere ashes. The ashes of this Wednesday are not merely a sign of death, but a promise of life to those who do penance. And yet the ashes are clearly a summons to penance, fasting and compunction.”

Excerpted from “Ash Wednesday” by Fr. Thomas Merton, OCSO

 

Monday, February 8 ~ Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Jerome Emiliani, Priest; Saint Josephine Bakhita, Virgin

 

Holy Gospel: Mark 6:53-56 After making the crossing to the other side of the sea, Jesus and his disciples came to land at Gennesaret and tied up there. As they were leaving the boat, people immediately recognized him. They scurried about the surrounding country and began to bring in the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed.

 

Meditation: Faith is an entirely free gift which God makes to us through the power of the Holy Spirit. Believing and trusting in God to act in our lives is only possible by the grace and help of the Holy Spirit who moves the heart and converts it to God. The Holy Spirit opens the eyes of the mind and helps us to understand, accept, and believe God’s word. How do we grow in faith? By listening to God’s word with trust and submission. Faith also grows through testing and perseverance. The Lord wants to teach us how to pray in faith for his will for our lives and for the things he wishes to give us to enable us to follow him faithfully and serve him generously. Jesus gave his disciples the perfect prayer which acknowledges God as our Father who provides generously for his children. The Lord’s prayer teaches us to seek first the kingdom of God and to pray that God’s will be accomplished in our lives. The Lord in turn, gives us what we need to live each day for his glory. The Lord is never too distant nor too busy to meet us and to give his blessing. Do you pray to the Father with confidence that he will show you his will and give you what you need to follow him? Ask the Lord to increase your faith and gratitude for his merciful love and provision for your life.

 

Prayer ~ Saint Jerome Emiliani: O God, Father of mercies, who sent Saint Jerome Emiliani as a helper and father to orphans, grant through his intercession, that we may preserve faithfully the spirit of adoption, by which we are called, and truly are, your children. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

 

Prayer ~ Saint Josephine Bakhita: O God, who led Saint Josephine Bakhita from abject slavery to the dignity of being your daughter and a bride of Christ, grant, we pray, that by her example we may show constant love for the Lord Jesus crucified, remaining steadfast in charity and prompt to show compassion. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever

 

Contemplation: Do you recognize the Lord’s presence in your life? The gospel records that when Jesus disembarked from the boat the people immediately recognized him. What did they recognize in Jesus? A prophet, a healer, the Messiah, the Son of God? For sure they recognized that Jesus had power from God to heal and to make whole bodies, limbs, minds, and hearts that were beset with disease, affliction, and sin. What happened when they pressed upon him and touched the fringe of his garment? They were made well. The Lord Jesus is ever ready to meet our needs as well. Do you approach him with expectant faith?  As we begin the Season of Lent this week, perhaps we need to examine our level of faith, our sincerity of faith, so that we may grow in our faith of Christ.