What is fasting? What is abstinence? Why Fridays?

02/25/2024  |  Why do we do that?

Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent are “obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics.” But what do these terms mean?


Second Sunday in Lent: This is a Test

02/25/2024  |  Gospel Reflection

I used to wonder how God could lie to Abraham about sacrificing his son Isaac. But the story begins by telling us God put Abraham to the test. Abraham himself seems to know it’s a test—in verses left out or our reading, he tells the servants that he and Isaac will return after the sacrifice; he also tells Isaac that God will provide the offering. Apparently, I’m the only one fooled by God.


First Sunday of Lent: Clear Conscience

02/18/2024  |  Gospel Reflection

Usually, the first reading has something in common with the gospel. Today’s however, has more in common with the second reading from St. Peter. They both talk about Noah and the ark, where the few good people were saved by going through the water. Peter compares that to the waters of Baptism, in which we are saved by God. He also has an interesting image of Jesus “preaching to the spirits in prison.” It refers to the fallen angels whose disobedience lead the rest of the population to turn away from God. Just as God washed away the evil of the world in the waters of the flood, so the waters of Baptism made us into a new people who have clear consciences, both because God has forgiven our sins and because we promise to follow only Him.


Q. Why don’t we sing the Gloria or the Alleluia during Lent?

02/18/2024  |  Why do we do that?

Alleluia in Hebrew means “Praise God!” And obviously, the words of the Gloria come from the song of the angels at Christmas when they proclaim “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people of good will!” Both songs, therefore, are expressions of joy – the celebration of God’s saving work and the proclamation that the Kingdom of God is at hand here in our Church, even as we await the Kingdom of Heaven which is our Christian reward. The Kingdom is already here, even though we have not yet seen it in its fullness.


Nothing Frightens Jesus Away

by Sr. Kathryn James Hermes  |  02/11/2024  |  Gospel Reflection

Two words in this Gospel are almost terrifying: Jesus “touched him.”

We are so far removed from what leprosy signified in biblical times, that this image of Jesus stretching out his hand to touch a person whose body was consumed by the disease has no effect on us.


What Do You Want?

by Tom Schmidt  |  02/04/2024  |  Gospel Reflection

Jesus was starting to become very popular, at least with the ordinary people. They had seen how he had cured the sick and cast out demons. The gospel has one unusual sentence about those demons: Jesus did not let them speak “because they knew who he was.” (Mk 1:34) Apparently, the demons would have identified him as the Son of God. Jesus knew the people would not understand this and try to proclaim him as their king. Jesus had no intention of living as a worldly king, in comfort and riches. In fact, he came to free people from needing wealth and power.


Why does everyone have to come all the way forward for communion? Why don’t we have Eucharistic Ministers halfway back in the church like we used to?

02/04/2024  |  Why do we do that?

Many Catholics in virtually every liturgical context prefer to sit in the back of the church. People have many reasons for doing so. Some are devotional: it can be a sign of humility, or sometimes people sit near an image or statue to which they are particularly devoted. Sometimes its practical – people who have mobility issues, or who want to avoid the direct air conditioning, or think it’s too loud in front or simply arrive late to Mass.