Column: Lent and Easter

This column contains articles related to the Catholic Church's observance of Lent and celebration of Easter.

Can’t Get Into the Feast — by Fr. Denis Lemieux. As I begin writing this monthly column on the Sunday readings, I can foresee that on any given month it might be hard for me to decide which Sunday to pick.... (April 04, 2016)

I Used to Believe in Jesus, But Then He Rose From the Dead! — by Fr. David May. Why do you seek the Living One among the dead? (Luke 24:5) This is the question that sets the tone for all of Easter, and ultimately for the entire life of faith. Why, indeed? Why... (April 01, 2016)

The Day God is Silent — by Fr. Denis Lemieux. Though this column is usually about a Sunday Gospel reading, this month, I am going to do it differently. I’m going to write about the one day of the Church year that does not have a... (March 25, 2016)

What’s Not to Love? — by Cheryl Ann Smith. I love Lent. In fact, it’s my favorite liturgical season. Yes, Christmas is more important, as we celebrate the beauty of Light and Love coming to dwell with us in our darkness—darkness intensified by our... (February 19, 2016)

The Temptations of Christ — by Pope Francis. Each year, the Gospel of the First Sunday of Lent sets before us the narrative of the temptation of Jesus....... (February 12, 2016)

Why Do You Seek the Living Among the Dead — by Pope Francis. This week is the week of joy, the week in which we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. It is a true and deep joy founded on the certainty that the Risen Christ will never die again. Rather,... (April 09, 2015)

Bringing Easter to the Culture of Death — by Fr. David May. As I write this morning, on a snowy Ash Wednesday in mid-February, we are already starting to look forward to the Easter feast. I know, I know. Ash Wednesday by most counts is a bit early... (April 06, 2015)

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways — by Fr. Pat McNulty. "How do I love Thee? Let me count the ways." Did you know that famous poem?... (February 20, 2015)

Going Beyond Where We Are — by Pope Francis. Rend your hearts and not your garments (Joel 2:13) With these penetrating words of the Prophet Joel, the liturgy of Ash Wednesday leads us into Lent, pointing to conversion of heart as the chief characteristic of this... (February 19, 2015)

When Life—or Lent—Goes Off the Scale — by Fr. David May. Lately, life’s been right off the scale. I rarely use a musical term and even more rarely know what it means, but this one has a common meaning that goes beyond music.... (February 18, 2015)

Stories We Tell Ourselves About Sin — by Fr. Denis Lemieux. So, I’ve been thinking about sin quite a bit lately. Haven’t you? It’s kind of a Lenten thing to do, right?... (March 06, 2014)

Ten Thousand Times Ten Thousand — by Fr. Pat McNulty.See how much difference it makes when the Book of Revelation is read in some kind of recognizable context. No, the Book of Revelation never made any sense to me either way, in or out of... (April 12, 2013)

Easter: Hope for the World — by Catherine Doherty. Christ is risen! Alleluia! Truly he is risen! Once again, these words echo and re-echo across the world, for it is Eastertide. Once again Christians realize that God is with us unto the end of time.... (April 01, 2013)

This Lent, This Easter — by Catherine Doherty. Lent, Easter, the conditions of the world …. Though Catherine wrote this in 1981, you’d think she was talking about today. Does anyone understand that Lent is a joyous season? True, it is also a season... (March 29, 2013)

The Serpent Loves It — by Fr. Pat McNulty. A reflection on John 8:11, the story of the woman taken in adultery, the gospel reading for March 17th, the 5th Sunday of Lent. ... (March 18, 2013)

The Bloom-in’ Desert — by Kate O’Donnell. "The Lenten spring has come." So proclaims one of the songs we sing at Madonna House in early Lent. Thus is proclaimed a time of prayer and fasting, a time of shaking up the status quo... (February 08, 2013)

Why Fast? (Fasting - Part 2) — by Fr. Denis Lemieux. Remember man, that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Last month we talked about getting ready for Lent. Now it is almost upon us, and soon this traditional formula of the Ash... (February 05, 2013)

Lent: A Path to New Life — by Catherine Doherty. Our road is rough at times. We pray, "Lord, show me your path." Then when he does this, we draw back. We draw back into ourselves, not necessarily walking his paths. We stand still because we... (February 01, 2013)

It’s Time to Start! (Fasting - Part 1) — by Fr. Denis Lemieux. "Well, it’s time to start thinking about Lent!" Every year on about January 7, the day after Epiphany, with Christmas decorations just barely coming down and being stored away for the year, Catherine Doherty would declare... (January 18, 2013)

Glorious His Triumph — by Pope Benedict XVI. Easter is the true salvation of humanity. If Christ—the Lamb of God—had not poured out his blood for us, we would be without hope. Our destiny and the destiny of the whole world would inevitably... (April 12, 2012)

His Love Will Empty Every Tomb — by Fr. Bob Pelton. "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in the tomb, lavishing life." (from a hymn we sing in Madonna House) If you read this article in April springtime,... (April 01, 2012)

Cross and Resurrection — by Catherine Doherty. This Holy Week and Easter Week, I meditated much on the Cross and on the Resurrection. And I was struck at the power of the liturgy to bring the two together. From the very beginning of Lent,... (April 22, 2011)

Lent: A Call to Change — by Pope Benedict XVI. "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel." [This formula which accompanies the distributing of ashes], this call to conversion, is a word to be understood in its extraordinary gravity, grasping the surprising newness... (March 18, 2011)

Does Lent Make You Edgy? — by Fr. David May. The beginning of Lent is like the beginning of a new year: it often starts off with the best of intentions. We go to Mass, get our ashes, plan our fasts, firm up the old prayer... (March 11, 2011)

Ash Wednesday — by Catherine Doherty. Ashes …    Man …       Dust … Humility …    The kneeling … ……The keening … Heart becomes clean …    Ashes on forehead …       Surrender …          Joy … God is near!... (March 09, 2011)

Easter — by Caryll Houselander.... (April 09, 2010)

I Can’t Find The Words — by Fr. Pat McNulty. A reflection for Mercy Sunday or Holy Week or any time you are having difficulty believing in the mercy of God.... (April 08, 2010)

Let There Be Light — by Pope Benedict XVI. When Christ predicted his death and Resurrection, the apostles wondered what the word, "resurrection," meant. Could it be that we find ourselves in a similar situation?... (April 06, 2010)

Hasten to the Garden — by Fr. David May. How I love the stories of Easter in the Gospels! Every year we hear them, yet they remain ever fresh, ever new. I love carefully reading each one. I note the similarities, and I love the... (April 05, 2010)

Holy Week of the Family — by Catherine Doherty. In Holy Week, Love died for Love’s sake to teach us how to love. In Holy Week, Love teaches us that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for the beloved. And so... (April 02, 2010)

The Road to Resurrection — by Pope John Paul II. During this Lenten season, it is the Resurrection towards which we are heading, the Resurrection that reveals the true value of the Cross. The Cross is not a sign of death but of life; not... (March 25, 2010)

Praying With Your Body — by Fr. David May. The old man peered from behind the curtain of the iconostasis. "Sign!" he yelled. "Sign! Why aren’t you signing?!"... (March 10, 2010)

Why Not Be a Mystic? — by Fr. Pat McNulty. One cloudy day, I was sitting on the ground outside the poustinia in great turmoil and pain. I was trying to make some very difficult decisions in my life, and I was feeling a desperate need... (March 05, 2010)

We Are Saved Sinners — by Jean Fox. We say, "I’m wounded" or "I can’t help that because I’m wounded." We must learn to say, "No, it’s not my wound that makes me mean and irritable and devious and hateful. It’s the fact that I’m... (February 25, 2010)

Got a Penny? — by Fr. Pat McNulty. The toothless, scruffy old beggar outside the bus station didn’t bat an eye when I declined her sexual pitch. But before I could converse with her along a more favourable line, she said to me, "Got... (February 22, 2010)

Lent: School of Love — by Catherine Doherty. Lent is God’s lovemaking to man. But God’s lovemaking is strange. He knows, for instance, that a child is trained to jump by having first a little brick to jump over, for his feet are very tiny;... (February 17, 2010)

How the Universe Gets Renewed — by Fr. David May. If you want to think big, you’ve got to start small. If you want to see the world truly transformed, you’ve got to let go of grandiose ideas that wear out before they ever get anywhere.... (April 13, 2009)

Christ is Risen! — by Catherine Doherty. Alleluia! Christ is risen! Verily he is risen! Because he has, darkness has been conquered by light, death by life, and hate by love. Now the world lives in the resurrected Christ.... (April 12, 2009)

The Case of the Good Thief — by Steve Héroux. We talk about "getting into heaven" by which, unfortunately, we often mean "not going to hell." As if life were some great toil towards an abstract and menacing goal: the finish line towards which we move with... (April 10, 2009)

The Washing of the Feet — by Pope Benedict XVI. If we listen attentively to the Gospel of Holy Thursday, we can discern two different dimensions in the event of the washing of the feet. The cleansing that Jesus offers his disciples is first and foremost... (April 09, 2009)

Do You Understand What Jesus Has Done? — by Fr. Bob Wild.One Holy Thursday I was listening to the reading of the Passion. When it came to the part where Peter says, "Lord, you will never wash my feet," the Spirit drew me into a meditation, into a... (April 08, 2009)

Famous Last Words — by Fr. Pat McNulty. We nick-named him "Billy" after Billy the Kid, that infamous cowboy and bank robber because our new arrival was also short, stocky and cocky, and he walked like he made his living riding horseback out West.... (April 06, 2009)

Easter: A Call to Action — by Catherine Doherty. Christ is Risen. Truly he is risen. Alleluia! Alleluia! What are we going to do about it? For if we truly believe in his incarnation, his life on earth, his death on the cross and his resurrection,... (April 25, 2008)

Algebra and Easter: A Symphony in D Minus? — by Fr. Pat McNulty. Sister Clare Marie was trying to be gentle as she explained my D minus grade in Algebra, the only unacceptable grade I had ever gotten in high school. "My advice, Patrick, is that you avoid higher... (April 04, 2008)

A Pathway to Hope — by Catherine Doherty. You hear all the beautiful readings in the liturgies during the Easter Season that say that Christ is risen, the bonds of sin have been broken, and the world has been renewed. And in our nitty-gritty way,... (April 02, 2008)

I’m OK? You’re OK? Happy Easter? — by Fr. Pat McNulty. "Did you read it?" My therapist was referring to the latest pop book in the field of psychology, I’m OK—You’re OK, which he thought would be good for me to read. This was in 1969, and... (March 26, 2008)

An Easter Icon — by Pope Benedict XVI. The Easter icons of the Eastern Church show how Christ enters the world of the dead. He is clothed with light, for God is light....... (March 24, 2008)

Holy Saturday — by Catherine Doherty. The stone was heavy. It took strong Roman soldiers to roll it across the entrance. The cave was cold. There wasn’t a chink that let in any light. The walls were hard. There was so little air,... (March 22, 2008)

Wrapped in Christ’s Shroud — by Catherine Doherty. Last night it came to me that if I wrap myself up in Christ’s shroud and meditate on his death, I become more alive. So I wanted to nestle into that shroud. I wanted it to cover... (March 21, 2008)

How Much Do I Love? — by Catherine Doherty. Let us face it frankly: how much love do we have? Love for God, and love for man?... (March 20, 2008)

The Scapegoat — by Fr. Bob Wild. Denounce him; let us denounce him.... They fetched stones to throw at Jesus.... These are just a few of the many scriptural statements describing the sufferings of the Son of Man.... (March 17, 2008)

Entering the Gates of Jerusalem — by Fr. David May. If you have followed with seriousness the journey from Ash Wednesday to Holy Week, you will notice that there is a very distinctive turn of the season come Palm Sunday.... (March 14, 2008)

It Was Me; I Did It — by Fr. Bob Wild. There is an Eastern Rite prayer that we pray every day at Lauds (morning prayer) during Lent at Madonna House. "Lead me on the path of salvation, O Mother of God, for I have profaned my... (February 27, 2008)

Lent: A Path to Joy — by Pope John Paul II. When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you (Mt 6:6). This is, therefore,... (February 18, 2008)

Repenting of Virtues — by Irma Zalesky. About twenty five years ago during a visit to London, I met a great teacher and one of the most exciting men I had ever known, Anthony Bloom, the Russian Orthodox Metropolitan of Sourozh. I had several... (February 11, 2008)

Did Jesus Laugh? — by Fr. Pat McNulty. When you fast do not put on a gloomy face like the hypocrites do (Mt. 6:16). It was the loudest doorbell I had ever heard. And when I pushed the little black button a second time,... (February 08, 2008)

A Time to Plumb the Depths — by Catherine Doherty. Lent is a time to go into the depths of yourself, to really advance in the "journey inward" that everyone must undertake to meet the God who dwells within. This Lent should be a time to ask... (February 06, 2008)

The Cosmic Explosion — by Pope Benedict XVI. The Resurrection is not just some miracle from the past, the occurrence of which could ultimately be a matter of indifference to us. It is a qualitative leap in the history of "evolution" and of life... (April 08, 2007)

This is the Night — by Irma Zaleski. Of all the wonderful moments that the Church provides for us in its great annual cycle of feasts and celebrations, there is one that that moves me perhaps the most deeply. That is the moment during the... (April 07, 2007)

How an Old Man Got New Eyes: An Easter Story — by Jude Fischer. Once there was an old man. He was very unhappy and didn’t enjoy life very much. As things were never right, he grumbled and complained. He grumbled that he had to get up in the morning. Then... (April 06, 2007)

A Lenten Lifestyle (Part 2) — by Alexander Schmemann. Part 1 talked about creating in the home a Lenten atmosphere, a "climate" conducive to an inner life. Part 2 gives suggestions about creating such a climate in our life outside the home. What could be the... (March 21, 2007)

The Only Sign We Need — by Pope Benedict XVI. The Fourth Sunday of Lent, traditionally known as Laetare (rejoice) Sunday, is permeated with a joy which, to some extent, attenuates the penitential atmosphere of this holy season. We spontaneously ask ourselves: but why should we... (March 16, 2007)

The Search for Burning Bushes — by Fr. Pat McNulty. Have you ever wished for a mystical experience? The following is a reflection on the story of Moses and the Burning Bush (Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15), the First Reading for March 11th, the Third Sunday in Lent.... (March 12, 2007)

A Lenten Lifestyle — by Alexander Schmemann. In order for our Lenten efforts to be effective and meaningful, we need a style of life which is not in contradiction with them, which does not lead to a "split existence." In the past, in Orthodox... (February 23, 2007)

Good News for Dust and Ashes — by Fr. Pat McNulty. One Ash Wednesday, the ashes on Fr. Pat’s forehead began a change in a young woman’s heart. "No thanks, I only smoke filters," she said as I offered her a cigarette. She was smoking filtered Kools.... (February 21, 2007)

Expect a Miracle — by Fr. David May. If you took a survey of people in Madonna House, Combermere, you would probably find very few who would pick February as their favorite month. Usually by the time it has begun, we have already had... (February 19, 2007)

I Have Destroyed Death — by Bishop Melito of Sardis (2nd Century). The Lord, though he was God, became man. He suffered for the sake of those who suffer; he was bound for those in bonds, condemned for the guilty, buried for those who lie... (April 17, 2006)

The Night of Nights — by Catherine Doherty. This is the night of nights. This is the apex of the love story. The first part came to us as the cry of a Child. The second, as the hammering and planning of wood by a... (April 15, 2006)

Awake, O Sleeper — An ancient homily. Something strange is happening. There is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the king is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen... (April 14, 2006)

Entering Holy Week — by Catherine Doherty. This is the hour of faith. We are going to need faith, because Holy Week, in a manner of speaking, will show us the reign of the prince of darkness, who rejoiced on Good Friday because he... (April 11, 2006)

What is Really Happening? — by Fr. Denis Lemieux. “The glamour is gone.” As I woke up yesterday, slowly and painfully crawling up from unconsciousness, this thought arose, unbidden and incomprehensible from some depth of my subconscious mind. It was the first waking thought of... (April 09, 2006)

Opening Up to God — by Pope John Paul II. “Penitence,” in the evangelical sense, above all means this: “to be converted.” The real purpose of it is interior purification, which is necessary in order to be able to meet “in the secrecy of the... (March 27, 2006)

Sister Ruth and the Bells — by Fr. Pat McNulty. I love bells—bells of every kind: ding-bells, dong-bells, bing-bells, and especially booooooong-bells. Bells can be a sign of hope and a source of life. They certainly were for me when I was growing up. Three times... (March 24, 2006)

Renewing the Culture — by Tom Kluger. It was early Lent last year, and the weather was soggy and overcast. The combination of the two could hardly be more depressing. I was working away in the cheese house at St. Benedict’s Acres, the Madonna... (March 20, 2006)

The Joy of Repentance — by Irma Zaleski. We can never achieve perfection. We cannot really be “good,” for only God is good (Mk 10:19). We cannot achieve perfect prayer, perfect trust, perfect forgiveness, or perfect love. We cannot have one totally unselfish thought, emotion,... (March 10, 2006)

Can You Weigh Desire? — by Catherine Doherty. Preparation for Lent begins with desire. Can you weigh desire? Can you measure it with a yardstick? Can you unwrap it and know the chemical content? No, my friends, you can’t. Desire is like a flame; it... (March 08, 2006)

What Is Your Address? — by Fr. Denis Lemieux. Here is a composite of a series of conversations I’ve had recently: Ring, ring... (Standard corporate North America telephone routine begins.)... push one-push two, working my way through the voice-mail maze... music, waiting... “Your call is... (March 03, 2006)

Bigger Than the Big Screen — by Fr. David May. In the Church’s Office of Readings for Ash Wednesday, there is an excerpt from the letter of Pope St. Clement to the Corinthians. The passage chosen begins as follows: “Let us fix our attention on the... (March 01, 2006)

The Challenge of Eastertime — by Fr. Bob Wild. Thanks be to God Lent is over, and there’s no more need for conversion! The readings of the Easter Season just invite us to a time of peaceful meals with the Lord at table and on... (April 02, 2005)

The Feast of Feasts — by Catherine Doherty. Catherine often told us about her childhood in Russia, not because she loved to reminisce (which, perhaps, she did), but to give us glimpses, concrete pictures, and a vision of a culture in which life and faith... (March 26, 2005)

Pursued by Love — by Jean Lafrance. (Perhaps) you have a climber’s mentality, and every day you set off to storm God, to overcome him by sheer force. Or maybe you ask God to come to you, reminding him politely that he seems to... (March 16, 2005)

The Detour — by S. E. M. The father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring out the finest robe and put it on him” (Lk 15:22). “No, father,” the son said. “No. I cannot accept. Treat me like one of your hired hands.”... (March 14, 2005)

Love Stops at Nothing — by Cheryl Ann Smith. The first time I watched Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ—last year during Lent—I was devastated. I couldn’t talk; I could only weep. But I had asked for it. Only too aware of how consistently... (February 01, 2005)

The Coin That Redeems — by José de Vinck. Perhaps after his message about love, the most astounding revelation Christ made to the pagan world was his message about pain. Without that message, pain is simply something to be avoided by any means. The will... (February 01, 2005)

The Bright Sadness — by Catherine Doherty. In the Russia of my childhood we felt deeply that the way to the cross—to Golgotha—is always filled with a “bright sadness,” for Christ is etched on the cross against a fantastic light, an explosion, a transfiguration:... (February 01, 2005)

A Pathway to Joy — by Jean Fox. One word has been coming to me throughout this past week. It is an unexpected word, considering that Ash Wednesday and the Lenten time have come to us, and that the world is in extremely dark times.... (February 01, 2005)


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