Bulletin Articles - February 2023 - Preparing for Lent

Love Your Enemies

Love Your Enemies Jesus tells us , "But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you" (Matt 5:44). Loving our enemies will take a lot of effort on our part because it's not our natural response to show love to people who have hurt us.
As we begin the process of showing love to all people, here are three things you can do to start loving your enemies today.

1. Remember they were created by God. We often dislike those we fear or don't understand. When we remember that the person we call our enemy was created and is loved by God, just as we are, it should generate some kinship with them.

2. Put yourself in their shoes. People sometimes cause our dislike because of their actions. They may do things differently or speak in a different manner. Try to put yourself in the person's position, imagining why they may be acting the way they are and try to figure out how to relate to them from where they are.

3. Treat them as you want to be treated. The Golden Rule comes in handy - treat your enemy as you would want to be treated. Often times, the person we hate is treated with disdain or distrust. Apply the Golden Rule and remember that God does not treat us as our sins deserve either (Psalms 103:10-14).

Five ways to understand forgiveness:

    1. His gift. All good things are from God. Don't be too proud to beg for the gift to forgive someone. How does God forgive all? Because he understands all. Pray for the gift of wisdom.

    2. Not amnesia.Remember that forgiving someone does not erase the sting of a painful memory. Forgiveness does not make a painful memory happy, but it provides a new context.

    3. My burden. Your grudge is your burden, not someone else's. Remember that carrying this burden means we are allowing someone else's sin to remain active in our lives. Address the evil spirit of that sin, and banish it from your life. This is usually not a one-and-done exercise. Continue each time it sneaks up and tries to lure you away from him. The way of forgiveness is the way of freedom.

    4. Rewrite the story. One of the reasons we can hold onto the burden of unforgiveness is that we have told the story in only one way. The narrative usually focuses on the bad that happened to me. In prayer, retell the story, emphasizing the graces that God poured into the situation - the strength, the courage, and the fortitude he gave you. You survived and maybe even grew wiser. This is the new memory. Pray to notice his virtue, not dwell on another's vice.

    5. At the foot of the Cross. At the foot of the Cross, we experience the transformative power of mercy. Jesus took away my sins, my anger, my unforgiveness and nailed them to the Cross. He has taken even death itself, upon himself, for me. In the Resurrection, Jesus transforms my sins by his love for me. In the shadow of that Cross, as I look upon him who cries out for my forgiveness, how can I but not forgive those who have trespassed against me?

Fr. William Byrne, Washington, D.C.

Are You Ready for LENT? It's almost here!

    Football and baseball programs have Spring Trainings each year so that players can hone their skills and get back into shape. Lent is our Catholic version of "Spring Training" for the soul.

    For forty days, we prepare to celebrate the Paschal Mystery at Holy Week and Easter through spiritual training as we get our souls back into shape under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the "Best Spiritual Coach" in the world. "Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one" (1 Cor 9:25).

    Fr. Michael Sliney, Lumen Chaplain of the Legionaries of Christ in Washington, D.C., shared three ways to prepare for Lent:

    1. PRAYER - Even Jesus chose a place of solitude and silence so that he could focus on prayer and conversation with his Heavenly Father. If we are serious about getting our souls into shape, then we should also separate ourselves from distractions to devotedly connect with Jesus more often in prayer.

    2. PURIFICATION - What is preventing us from knowing and loving Christ more? It is time for us to detox ourselves from the impurities that have attached themselves to us. We can start by purifying our minds by setting them in three directions only: on glory above, on beauty below, and on people around. Make holy thinking a habit.

    3. CHARITY - There is so much joy in giving! Lent is the perfect time to explore what it means to serve others rather than concentrating on ourselves. On the night before he died, Jesus acted like a servant, washing his followers' feet. His message was loud and clear: think of others, make their needs your priority.

Which crown will you train for?
   Crowns of Virtue

Go Ahead, Be Salty!

    It's no surprise that salt is valuable. It makes a difference to flavor, and it stimulates thirst. But did you know that Christians who are living their lives according to God's plan are equally valuable for the same reasons? On his podcast, The Salty Catholic, Anas Kesto said that we should "add flavor to an otherwise bland attitude of life." He asked us to "sprinkle in a little bit of flavor" by defending our faith as Salty Christians.

We should be Salty Christians because salt:

    Purifies - It keeps infections away and has healing properties. In a dark and diseased world, a salty Christian can keep away infections, decay, and corruption.

    Preserves - As salty Christians, we should preserve God's word by sharing it wherever we go through our actions so that others will see us as examples and get to know God through us.

    Produces Thirst - Like salty foods make us thirst for water, being a salty Christian aids in evangelization by causing others to have such a thirst for the living water, Jesus.

Don't lose the desire to be salty with God's love. You ARE the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13).

St. Peter says to be ready to "account for the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15). Consider using this simple, five-point explanation when explaining your hope as a believer.

Thumb: (hitchhiker, free ride)
Hitchhikers point their thumbs to ask, "Are you going my way?" Likewise, our call to heaven is a free gift. God invites, "Come MY way?"

Pointer: (points at everyone)
Jesus' call is universal, yet personal. He chooses us to follow Him; only we can give Jesus our "Yes" – in word and deed.

Middle finger: (Greatest Being in the universe)
Jesus was raised up on the Cross for sins, then rose from the dead. We attend Confession and receive His saving graces in hope to be raised to eternal life.

Ring finger: (Bridegroom)
To save us, Jesus took on our human nature and "wedded" Himself to us. At Sunday Mass, we worship God and become one with Him in Holy Communion.

Pinky: (faith of a mustard seed)
We recall our weakness and need of faith by trusting in Jesus Christ alone for our eternal life.



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St. Bernadette Catholic Church