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February 17, 2005 Edition

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Living the Scriptures
Faith Alive!
This week's readings
Pope's Prayer Intentions

Called out of comfort:
God promises great blessings

photo of Jane Sullentrap
Living the Scriptures 

with St. Paul University 
Catholic Center 

Jane Sullentrap 

Lent is an opportunity for us to once again learn how to die to ourselves, so that we may rise with Jesus. Traditionally, we make sacrifices during this time in order to learn how to die to self.

I believe that when we sacrifice, in any form, God calls to us through that sacrifice. By sacrificing we are silencing the background noise of our lives so that we can better hear our Heavenly Father. What an opportunity!

In the first reading today, God calls Abram out of his homeland and asks him to travel to a foreign land. He asks Abram to leave all that is familiar: his family, his friends, his hometown.

Second Sunday
of Lent
(Feb. 20, 2005)
Gn 12:1-4a
Ps 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22
2 Tm 1:8b-10
Mt 17:1-9

He wants Abram to give up all that he knows so that he can travel to a land he's never seen before. Surely it would have been easier for Abram to drown out God's call.

But God promises Abram blessings. With great trust, Abram does what God asks of him.

As a St. Louis native attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I can relate to Abram's situation. In the last three years, I've faced a lot of hardship, including the divorce of my parents, the death of my father, and the diagnosis (and remission, praise God) of my mother's cancer.

Before my life had a chance to settle down, it was time to pick a college. With no idea where to start, I turned to prayer.

With the guidance of the Holy Spirit and a trusted adult, I began to feel God's call to me to go to Madison. But this made no sense.

I knew no one in Wisconsin, I had attended small private schools my entire life, and it felt both risky and selfish to go so far away from my family after so much hardship. I struggled for many months, and with wary trust, I finally made my decision.

Although I questioned Him every step of the way, God has blessed me so much through my small act of obedience. I have been able to grow and heal in ways I don't think would be possible if I were closer to home. Everyday I am even more thankful that God has brought me here.

Yet however thankful I am that God called me to Madison, I am infinitely more thankful that He called me not just out of St. Louis, but out of the depression and self-pity that was so familiar to me.

Sin thrives when we become comfortable in it, and we are reluctant when God calls us out of those comfort zones. However, He promises us great blessings if we will only obey His call.

Reflection questions

• Are you using this Lenten season to listen more closely to God?

• What comfort zones is God calling you out of? Do you trust Him?

In this Lenten season, I encourage you to use this opportunity of sacrifice to listen more attentively to God. He is calling you not necessarily out of a physical place, but out of a place of comfort in your life.

He is asking you to trust. He is promising great blessings.

Jane Sullentrap is a freshman at UW-Madison from St. Louis who is currently undecided on a major. She attends Alpha-O and Bible Study and is a sacristan at the 9 p.m. Mass at St. Paul's University Catholic Center.

St. Paul's Web site is www.stpaulscc.org

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Faith Alive!

Faith Alive! logo

In a Nutshell

  • God's word can nourish people. That explains concerns that the Mass readings be effectively proclaimed during the Mass.

  • Pope John Paul II once said that in allowing the readings to be proclaimed in the people's language, Vatican Council II intended to "awaken a new ... responsibility toward the word."

  • The Eucharist's Liturgy of the Word is an encounter with the living Christ.

    Catholic News Service
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    Washington DC 20017
  •  Food for Thought
    How well are the Scripture readings proclaimed at Mass? Pope John Paul II urged parishes and others to raise that question -- make that evaluation -- during the current Year of the Eucharist.

    To accent Scripture's importance in the Mass, the pope's apostolic letter for the Year of the Eucharist drew upon the Gospel story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24). They encountered the risen Lord, but didn't recognize him at first. Then, as the three walked along together, the risen Lord "interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures." Later, sitting down together at table, Jesus "took bread, said the blessing, broke it and gave it to them. With that [the disciples] eyes were opened, and they recognized him."

    At Mass, the "table of the word" and the "table of the bread" are intimately linked, and one leads to the other, the pope suggested. He explained:

    "It is significant that the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, duly prepared by our Lord's words, recognized him at table through the simple gesture of the 'breaking of bread.' When minds are enlightened and hearts are enkindled, signs begin to 'speak.'"

    full story

    Why Make So Much of the Table of the Word at Mass?
    By Father Lawrence E. Mick

    Catholic News Service

    "[Christ] is present in his word, since it is he himself who speaks when the holy Scriptures are read in the church." That simple sentence comes from the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (No. 7) of Vatican Council II. It expresses a key mystery that underlies a proper understanding of the Liturgy of the Word at the Eucharist.

    Later in the same document the council fathers expand on it a bit: "Although the liturgy is above all things the worship of the divine majesty, it likewise contains rich instruction for the faithful. For in the liturgy God is speaking to his people, and Christ is still proclaiming his Gospel. And the people are responding to God by both song and prayer" (No. 33).

    full story 

    The Making of a Good Lector
    By Father Dan Danielson

    Catholic News Service

    Getting, keeping and training good lectors is an ongoing concern in a parish.

    On the one hand, we want to make the ministries of the parish available to everyone. But not everyone who volunteers or expresses an interest in a particular ministry has the ability to fulfill it. We would not think of having someone who is tone-deaf as a choir member or a cantor leading the people's sung responses. The same is true of a lector.

    full story 

    Lessons on the Road
    to Emmaus
    By Father Paul J. Campbell

    Catholic News Service

    During the time of Jesus many false prophets presented themselves to the people. Much like today, they spoke loudly and made great claims. Yet, on the road to Emmaus Jesus spoke quietly to his disciples, and they knew something was different about the stranger who walked with them.

    These disciples did not recognize him at first and only came to understand in the breaking of the bread that the man who had made their "hearts burn within" was Jesus, the risen Lord.

    full story

    Faith Alive! logo
     Faith in the Marketplace
    This Week's Discussion Point:

    How are Mass lectors in your parish prepared for their role?

      Selected Response From Readers:  
    Copyright © 2005 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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    This week's readings

    Week of February 20 - 26, 2005

    Sunday, Feb. 20, 2005
    Reading I: Gn 12:1-4a
    Reading II: 2 Tm 1:8b-10
    Gospel: Mt 17:1-9

    Monday, Feb. 21, 2005
    Reading I: Dn 9:4b-10
    Gospel: Lk 6:36-38

    Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2005
    Reading I: 1 Pt 5:1-4
    Gospel: Mt 16:13-19

    Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2005
    Reading I: Jer 18:18-20
    Gospel: Mt 20:17-28

    Thursday, Feb. 24, 2005
    Reading I: Jer 17:5-10
    Gospel: Lk 16:19-31

    Friday, Feb. 25, 2005
    Reading I: Gn 37:3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28a
    Gospel: Mt 21:33-43, 45-46

    Saturday, Feb. 26, 2005
    Reading I: Mi 7:14-15, 18-20
    Gospel: Lk 15:1-3, 11-32

    Pope's Prayer Intentions

    February General Intention

    Medical care for the poor: That the sick, especially the poorest of them, may receive the care and medical treatment worthy of human beings.

    February Mission Intention

    Passionate love for Christ: That all missionaries may recognize it is only through a fervent love for Christ that the Gospel can be effectively transmitted.

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