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In Lenten Grace, members of the Daughters of St. Paul share the fruit of their “lectio divina” (a prayerful reading of Sacred Scripture). This handy volume contains their insightful reflections on the daily Gospel readings of Lent. You can get it free this February.

You can also join the Daughters of Saint Paul in welcoming the unique grace of Ordinary Time in their book Ordinary Grace Weeks 1–17: Daily Gospel Reflections—which is an opportunity to reflect more deeply on all the aspects of the mystery of Christ, as presented in the daily Gospel readings.  It’s yours this month for only $1.99.

These deals are only good through February 28get them both now!

Pope Francis’s Thoughts on Lent

Pope Francis

Each year, the Holy Father publishes his thoughts and reflections on the upcoming Lenten season.  This year is no different and the theme comes from Matthew 24:12: “Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold.” Below is an overview of his message and at the end we’ve got a link to his message so you can read for yourself.

False Prophets & Cold Hearts

The Holy Father begins by reflecting on two problem areas in our world today.  He first reflects on “false prophets” and, second, on hearts that have grown cold.

False Prophets

He characterizes false prophets as “snake charmers” and “charlatans.”  Snake charmers, “who manipulate human emotions in order to enslave others and lead them where they would have them go.”  The charlatans “offer easy and immediate solutions to suffering that soon prove utterly useless.”  In the end, it is “the devil, who is ‘a liar and the father of lies’ (Jn 8:44), has always presented evil as good, falsehood as truth.”

Cold Hearts

The Holy Father then turns to reflect on Dante’s depiction of Satan in the Inferno: the devil is “…seated on a throne of ice, in frozen and loveless isolation.”  Pope Francis goes on to conclude:

Love can also grow cold in our own communities. In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I sought to describe the most evident signs of this lack of love: selfishness and spiritual sloth, sterile pessimism, the temptation to self-absorption, constant warring among ourselves, and the worldly mentality that makes us concerned only for appearances, and thus lessens our missionary zeal.

Prayer, Fasting & Almsgiving

The Holy Father paints a rather daunting picture of the false prophets and the “the cooling of charity” that he sees everywhere in our world.  But what are we to do?  Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are the antidote to these worldly ailments.

“By devoting more time to prayer,” the Holy Father says, “we enable our hearts to root out our secret lies and forms of self-deception, and then to find the consolation God offers. He is our Father and he wants us to live life well.”

“Almsgiving sets us free from greed,” Pope Francis continues, “and helps us to regard our neighbour as a brother or sister. What I possess is never mine alone. How I would like almsgiving to become a genuine style of life for each of us! How I would like us, as Christians, to follow the example of the Apostles and see in the sharing of our possessions a tangible witness of the communion that is ours in the Church!”

Finally, the Holy Father concludes by reflecting on fasting:

Fasting weakens our tendency to violence; it disarms us and becomes an important opportunity for growth. On the one hand, it allows us to experience what the destitute and the starving have to endure. On the other hand, it expresses our own spiritual hunger and thirst for life in God. Fasting wakes us up. It makes us more attentive to God and our neighbour. It revives our desire to obey God, who alone is capable of satisfying our hunger.

You can read Pope Francis’s reflection here in full.

You can also read his homily for Ash Wednesday, preached in the Basilica of Santa Sabina (Founded by St. Dominic) here.

May you all have a blessed and fruitful Lent!

Your Father who sees in secret will repay you

Ash Wednesday

Throughout Lent, we’re sharing excerpts from Lenten Grace, an inspiring journey through the season’s Gospel readings. Check back every Sunday through Easter for a new reading. Best of all, you can get this collection of daily Gospel reflections free. Get it now.

Already own Lenten Grace? Open today’s reading in Verbum.

Lectio

Matthew 6:1–6, 16–18

Meditatio

“… [Do not] perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them
… your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

“What are you going to do for Lent?” As children each year we had to answer this question. We gave up cookies, candy, TV, video games …; the list was made up of our most precious pleasures. We struggled through the forty days of Lent, flexing our spiritual muscles as we raced toward the Easter Day finish line. As adults we’ve settled into a more sophisticated Lenten spirituality, but often we end up giving up the same things we did as kids, perhaps hoping to lose a little weight or gain a little time.

Today’s Gospel reading prods us to go deeper. It centers around theatrics. We all are mini-celebrities of our own lives, imagining a trail of adoring fans following us. We can even make Lent into a minor Hollywood production. We conceive the idea for our Lenten penance. We write the script. We are producer, director, actor, and audience all wrapped in one. And we end up at the Easter Day finish line as self-absorbed as we were on Ash Wednesday.

Perhaps these words of Jesus spoken to us today are asking us to go backstage, take the last seat, sit down, and wait for God to reveal to us the script he has written for us this Lent. Perhaps as adults we should be asking at the beginning of Lent: What is God going to do for me in these next forty days? What is it that I desire God to do for me in this long Lenten retreat?

Instead of theatrics, Jesus is inviting us to simple honesty. To smallness. To just being there and sensing his grace, quiet enough, still enough to feel the gentle tugs of the Spirit to newness, to giving up obstacles to the growth of a treasured relationship, to finding a few moments daily to read the Word of God, to surrender fear.… What God is going to do in your life will surprise you. Expect it.

Oratio

Jesus, I am not accustomed to telling you to do whatever you want in my life. In fact, it’s kind of scary to see what you would do if I let you write my life’s script. I think I am doing a pretty good job at my life on my own. But it seems you want something more of me now. Instead of Lent being my focus, you are placing me front and center in your focus. I am expecting you to show me what you want to give me at this stage of my life. I trust you.

Contemplatio

I expect you, God, to do something with me this Lent.

***

Download Lenten Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections to guide you throughout this lenten season. You can get it free through February! Get it now

Keep your eyes on the these Pre-Pub resources

Check out February's deals!

Paulist Press Church History Collection (4 vols.)Paulist Press Church History Collection (4 vols.)

Explore the history of Catholicism from the first century to the present. The Shaping of Christianity closely examines the first four centuries of “the Christian movement” as it developed into a major world religion. The two-volume A History of the Christian Tradition surveys the entire history of Christianity, from its Jewish origins all the way through the pontificate of Pope John Paul II.

$74.95 Pre-Pub: $54.95
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Select Works of Henri de Lubac (5 vols.)Select Works of Henri de Lubac (5 vols.)

This collection presents several works by prominent twentieth-century theologian Henri de Lubac. A French Jesuit priest who eventually became the oldest living cardinal before his death in 1991, de Lubac was instrumental in shaping the Second Vatican Council, and composed many valuable theological works during tumultuous times.

$64.99 Pre-Pub: $49.99
Buy nowLearn more

 

Select Works of Thomas Howard (10 vols.)Select Works of Thomas Howard (10 vols.)

Study gems of devotion, apologetics, and literary scholarship from noted author Thomas Howard. Possessing an instantly identifiable wit and style, Howard is a popular author and speaker with Catholics and Protestants alike. Born into a prominent Evangelical family, Howard converted to Catholicism in 1985—prompting him to write sympathetic and insightful Christian apologetic works.

$89.99 Pre-Pub: $69.99
Buy now | Learn more

These resources will only be on pre-order for a limited time

Verbum Now Member Benefits for February 2018

Verbum Now

For the month of February, Verbum Now members enjoy the following benefits:

Preview: Studies in the Hebrew Bible

These volumes offer the latest research on the Torah in the Hebrew Bible and interpretation of key texts, figures, and themes.

Check it out

 

 

40% off last month’s resource

Cut to the heart of debate of contentious theological problems with these necessary resources. Enjoy a 40% discount and continue to explore these issues.

 

 

 

Verbum Now Free Book of the Month

Now members get to pick one free book each month from a list of over 3,100 titles! Get your free book today.

Choose a book from this list, and use coupon code: NOWFREEBOOKFEB18

Check out these benefits for February

Monthly deals for February

St. Peter Damian and St. Gregory of Narek are the only two Doctors of the Church with feast days this month, but there are many great resources inspired by their legacy and charisms that we have compiled.

Save on these wisdom-filled resources!

 

Verbum Now

Your preview resources are here! Dive into some of the latest research on the Torah in the Hebrew Bible and interpretation of key texts, figures, and themes.

Also, Verbum Now customers get exclusive a 40% discount on last month’s preview resource.

Plus, get your monthly free book using coupon code: NOWFREEBOOKFEB18

 

Free Book of the Month

In Lenten Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections, members of the Daughters of St. Paul share the fruit of their “lectio divina” (a prayerful reading of Sacred Scripture). This handy volume contains their insightful reflections on the daily Gospel readings of Lent. It’s yours free this month.

Want more? Grab Ordinary Grace Weeks 1–17: Daily Gospel Reflections for only $1.99.

Get both | Learn more

He will gather the dispersed… from the four corners of the earth

Day 8 Reflection

The theme for the 2018 International Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is: Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power (cf. Exodus 15:6).

We continue with day 8 of the biblical reflections from the official handbook, which was drafted this year by the Churches of the Caribbean. (You can download it here.)

Readings:
Isaiah 11:12–13 (Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah, and Judah shall not be hostile towards Ephraim)
Psalm 106:1-14, 43–48 (Gather us to give thanks to hour holy name)
Ephesians 2:13–19 (He has broken down the dividing wall)
John 17:1–12 (Be on your guard against all kinds of greed)

The Caribbean churches work together to heal the wounds in the Body of Christ in the region, which are a legacy left by colonization. Reconciliation often demands repentance, reparation and the healing of memories. One example is the acts of apology and reparation between Baptists in Britain and the Caribbean. Like Israel, the Church in its unity is called to be both a sign and an active agent of reconciliation.

Reflection

Throughout the biblical narrative of salvation history, an unmistakable motif is the unrelenting determination of the Lord to form a people whom he could call his own. The formation of such a people – united in a sacred covenant with God – is integral to the Lord’s plan of salvation and to the glorification and hallowing of God’s Name.

The prophets repeatedly remind Israel that the covenant demanded that relationships among its various social groups should be characterized by justice, compassion and mercy. As Jesus prepared to seal the new covenant in his own blood, his earnest prayer to the Father was that those given to him by the Father would be one, just as he and the Father were one. When Christians discover their unity in Jesus they participate in Christ’s glorification in the presence of the Father, with the same glory that he had in the Father’s presence before the world existed. And so, God’s Covenanted people must always strive to be a reconciled community – one which itself is an effective sign to all the peoples of the earth of how to live in justice and in peace.

Prayer

Lord,
we humbly ask that, by your grace, the churches throughout the world may become instruments of your peace. Through their joint action as ambassadors and agents of your healing, reconciling love among divided peoples, may your Name be hallowed and glorified.
Amen.

The Church has much to teach us about ecumenism and God’s call to unity. Learn more with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity Collection.

Building family in household and church

Day 7 Reflection

The theme for the 2018 International Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is: Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power (cf. Exodus 15:6).

We continue with day 7 of the biblical reflections from the official handbook, which was drafted this year by the Churches of the Caribbean. (You can download it here.)

Readings:
Exodus 2:1-10 (The birth of Moses(
Psalm 127 (Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain(
Hebrews 11:23–24 (Moses was hidden by his parents … because they saw that the child was beautiful)
Matthew 2:13-15 (Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt)

In the Caribbean the family continues to be adversely affected by the legacy of enslavement and by new factors such as the migration of parents, financial problems and domestic violence. Facing this reality, the churches of the Caribbean are working to give support to both nuclear and extended families.

Reflection

Families are of central importance for the protection and nurture of children. The Bible accounts of the infancies of both Moses and Jesus, who were in mortal danger from the moment they were born because of the murderous orders of angry rulers, illustrate how vulnerable children can be to external forces. These stories also show how action can be taken to protect such little ones. Matthew presents us with a model of fatherhood that is in loving fidelity to the Lord’s command, especially in turbulent times.

The Scriptures view children as a blessing and as hope for the future. For the Psalmist, they are ‘like arrows in the hand of a warrior’. As Christians, we share a common calling to live as supportive family networks, relying on the strength of the Lord for the task of building strong communities in which children are protected and can flourish.

Prayer

Gracious God, you sent your son to be born in an ordinary family with ancestors who were both faithful and sinful. We ask your blessing upon all families within households and communities. We pray especially for the unity of the Christian family so that the world may believe. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

The Church has much to teach us about ecumenism and God’s call to unity. Learn more with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity Collection.

Let us look to the interests of others

Day 6 Reflection

The theme for the 2018 International Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is: Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power (cf. Exodus 15:6).

We continue with day 6 of the biblical reflections from the official handbook, which was drafted this year by the Churches of the Caribbean. (You can download it here.)

Readings:
Isaiah 25:1-9 (Let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation)
Psalm 82 (Maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute)
Philippians 2:1-4 (Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others)
Luke 12:13–21 (Be on your guard against all kinds of greed)

Changing international banking regulations continue to have a negative impact on the trade and commerce of the Caribbean and threaten the economic survival of many families. It has become increasingly difficult for Caribbean people working abroad to send money back to their families. The Churches in the Caribbean introduced the Credit Union movement in order for the poor to have access to finance for economic activity.

Reflection

The witness of the Scriptures is consistent that God always makes a preferential option for the poor: the right hand of God acts for the powerless against the powerful. Similarly, Jesus consistently warns against the dangers of greed. Despite these warnings, however, the sin of greed often infects our Christian communities and introduces a logic of competition: one community competing against the next. We need to remember that insofar as we fail to differentiate ourselves from the world, but conform to its divisive Competing spirit, we fail to offer a refuge for the needy in distress, a shelter from the storm’.

For our different churches and confessions, to be rich in the sight of God is not a case of having many members belonging – or donating – to one’s own community. Rather, it is to recognise that as Christians we have countless brothers and sisters right across the world, united across the economic divisions of North and South’. Conscious of this fraternity in Christ, Christians can join hands in promoting economic justice for all.

Prayer

Almighty God, give courage and strength to your church to continually proclaim justice and righteousness in situations of domination and oppression. As we celebrate our unity in Christ, may your Holy Spirit help us to look to the needs of others.
Amen.

The Church has much to teach us about ecumenism and God’s call to unity. Learn more with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity Collection.

Hark, the cry of my poor people

Day 5 Reflection

The theme for the 2018 International Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is: Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power (cf. Exodus 15:6).

We continue with day 5 of the biblical reflections from the official handbook, which was drafted this year by the Churches of the Caribbean. (You can download it here.)

Readings:
Deuteronomy 1:19-35 (The Lord God goes before you and carried you)
Psalm 145:9-20 (The Lord upholds all who are falling)
James 1:9-11 (The rich will disappear like a flower in the field)
Luke 18:35-43 (Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!)

The Caribbean economies have traditionally been based on the production of raw materials for the European market and so have never been self-sustaining. As a Consequence, borrowing on the international market became important for development. The requirements of such borrowing impose a reduction of spending on transport, education, health and other public Services, which impacts most severely on the poor. The Caribbean Conference of Churches has launched an initiative to address the current debt crisis in the region and through their international networks to come to the aid of the poor.

Reflection

We can imagine the noise of the crowd as Jesus enters Jericho. Many voices shout down the cry of the blind beggar. He is a distraction and an embarrassment. But through all this tumult Jesus hears the blind man’s voice, just as God always hears the cries of the poor in the Hebrew Scriptures. The Lord who upholds the falling not only hears, he responds. Thereby, the beggar’s life is radically transformed.

The disunity of Christians can become part of the world’s tumult and chaos. Like the arguing voices outside Jericho, our divisions can drown out the cry of the poor. However, when we are united we become more fully Christ’s presence in the world, better able to hear, listen and respond. Rather than increasing the volume of discord, we are able to truly listen and so discern the voices that most need to be heard.

Prayer

Loving God, you lift up the poor and distressed and restore their dignity. Hear now our cries for the poor of our world, restore their hope and lift them up, that all your people may be one. This we pray in Jesus name.
Amen.

The Church has much to teach us about ecumenism and God’s call to unity. Learn more with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity Collection.
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