Lent is the way that Catholics prepare for the celebration of the Triduum (which means “three days”). The Triduum is the triple feast of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. These feasts commemorate the climax of the life of Jesus. Holy Thursday remembers the His famous last supper with his closest disciples, while Good Friday commemorates his arrest, trial, and death by crucifixion.  Easter Sunday is celebration of the day when Jesus rose from the dead, and it is the greatest Christian feast day of the whole year.

From the first centuries of Christianity, Christians prepared themselves for this feast by fasting beforehand. Good Friday is the chief day of fasting.  Fasting on this day expresses our sorrow for our personal sins, since Jesus died for our sins.  It also professes our solidarity with Jesus because we are choosing to suffer on the day he suffered.

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The gift of the Holy Spirit is the key to understanding the Gospel reading about the Samaritan woman at the well.  Jesus will give the gift of the Holy Spirit so that people will no longer worship on Mount Gerizim or in Jerusalem, but they will worship the Father in and through the Holy Spirit.  The woman at the well does not know what she has been thirsting for her whole life, but she has been thirsting for the gift that only Jesus can give.

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Lent, 3rd Sunday. The Samaritan woman has a bit of a “reputation” around town, so imagine her surprise when a Jew treats her with dignity and respect. And then it turns out that He already knows all about her past, and He still loves her. Those things we think nobody knows? Jesus already knows.

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An end-times prophecy about three days of darkness is making the rounds of Catholic circles. This prophecy states that God’s last act of judgment on earth will be three days and three nights of total darkness.  No light will shine during this time except blessed wax candles, and the enemies of the Church will die.

According to some web searches I did, this same prophecy also makes the rounds in New Age circles (although without the references to the Church of course). On the internet you can find a purported Mayan legend about a time when the sun did not rise and there were three days of darkness until the people’s prayers brought the sun back.

The Catholic version is far more terrifying than the New-Age version.  The prophecy is attributed to Blessed Anna-Maria Taigi. I have not done any research to establish whether she really wrote this, but here is the passage that you can find on the internet:

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Jesus took three of His apostles up to the top of a mountain in order to show them a secret. It was so secret that they were not allowed to say anything about it until after Jesus had risen from the dead. This is the secret: Jesus is the Son of God.

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Lent is a training camp and spiritual retreat for the whole Church, and it always begins with the same two lessons. On the first Sunday of Lent, we have the scene of the temptation of Jesus in the desert. This story teaches the first lesson: we must worship God alone and obey only His word. The second Sunday of Lent always brings us to the Transfiguration, which teaches the whole church lesson two: Jesus is the beloved Son of God, and we should listen to Him. During the rest of Lent, we will be sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to His word.

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Lent, 2nd Sunday. Today we are privileged to be part of the inner circle of Jesus’ friends as we witness His true glory. Peter suggests they build three tents, but God has a better idea: we only need one tent because the beloved Son is enough.

Moses here symbolizes the Law and Elijah the Prophets. The Law showed the Israelites how to stay in right relationship with God and their neighbor. The Prophets called out the people when they cheated and stopped living in right relationship.

Jesus is the new Mediator, replacing both the Law and the Prophets. Right relationship with God happens not from following the Law but from following Jesus. The demands of the Catholic faith are meant to keep us in right relationship with God and neighbor. Like the Israelites, we have been cheating on our relationships. We let stuff get in the way of the people. Lent is a time to look at the stuff that clutters your heart. Clean out the stuff to make room for the amazing gift of Jesus. Listen as He tells us: Rise, and do not be afraid.

(16 Mar 2014)

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Genesis tells us about the most embarrassing moment in the world, the moment when Adam and Eve sinned. Adam and Eve’s mistake was to listen to the serpent instead of serving God; they did what seemed best to them rather than doing what God asked. The fundamental choice of our whole life is whether we are going to obey God or not, whether we will serve God and others or serve ourselves. In the desert, Jesus shows us how to do it the right way; Jesus refuses to serve Himself, because He is totally dedicated to serving God and others.

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