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By Fr. Tom Zelinski, OFM Cap.

As I was sitting and praying this morning, the thought occurred to me that there are probably millions of people doing the same thing: sitting, kneeling, walking, maybe praying while running. It is good to remember all the goodness in the world.

These days, as we are so conscious of the war in Ukraine, we are also made aware of the tremendous humanitarian response from much of the world. People are reaching out with money and all kinds of material aid to the people who are hurting so much. We wish all that goodness would also stop the fighting, but that is coming from another direction, from intentions that seem downright evil or a kind of insanity.

And so the people suffer. We get a notice almost every day from the Capuchin friars in Ukraine and Russia who are doing what they can to help people. Amid all the suffering, there is inspiring goodness.

Again, my beginning thought. Let us all keep praying, keep doing our part to bring some goodness and peace into the world of so much chaos. We’ve had the message of Jesus for over 2000 years. Some of humanity has not paid attention to him, and so there have been “wars and rumors of wars” down all the centuries. Let us pay attention to him and put into practice what we have heard over and over again. Love God. Love your neighbor. Accept mercy. Show mercy.

Lenten Scriptures

By Fr. Tom Zelinski, OFM Cap.

We are at the beginning of Lent. At this time I think it is helpful to review the structure or schedule of the Gospel readings for the weekday Masses of Lent. There is a pattern to these that I have always found helpful.

For the first three weeks of Lent, our Gospel passages are taken from the Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. These readings are seen as lessons for discipleship. Of course we are to be disciples of Christ all year long, but sometimes Lent might give us more motivation to reflect on our lives and to see how we are doing as we try to take up our cross to follow Christ in our daily living.

The Gospels can present an ideal that perhaps most of us will never fulfill. One author suggests that it may even be good for us to stumble a bit and fail in our Lenten projects. This can always be a reminder that we need a savior and that we don’t become holy through our own efforts.

Then in the fourth and fifth week of Lent our Gospels turn to a focus on the mystery of Christ. These readings are taken from the Gospel of
John. We center on the person of Christ and what he might mean for us as we walk with him toward the events of Holy Week.

Of course, whether we are thinking of our own discipleship or reflecting on the person of Christ, the focus is always more on him than on ourselves. May we all deepen our relationship with Christ in this Holy Season.


By Fr. Tom Zelinski, OFM Cap.

Another Lent approaches. This is one of the ways by which Christian people mark our journey through life. With Lent, people often think of doing something special or different to aid in their spiritual life. Of course we are called to honesty and continuing conversion all year long.

But the coming of Lent, based on custom and memory, perhaps stirs a little more motivation for some gesture or practice that can add to our personal and spiritual lives.

It is common to “give up” something during Lent. Often that is some food or a habit like drinking alcohol or smoking. These are good if they help us in our relationship with God and other people. Moving something out of our lives can remind us of our dependence on God, who alone can fill our human emptiness.

However, other thoughts might come to mind. For example, on a positive note, what can we add, what can we give to other people and to the world around us? There is so much news about anger and violence in our world, including right now more news of war and destruction. Perhaps Lent can be a time for us to bring some peace to our local world, to the people around us.

“Make me a channel of your peace” is part of a famous prayer. How can I bring more peace, more compassion, more kindness to the people near me? Besides giving up something for Lent, perhaps we can give something positive and life-giving to our brothers and sisters.

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