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Lenten Reflections


Lent 2016

Throughout the season of Lent, Professor Thomas Groome, Director of the Church in the 21st Century Center, will share his thoughts on the season and the importance of passing on the faith. A new Reflection will be posted on Friday for each week of Lent.

Hear Professor Groome introduce the Lenten Reflections series.

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Easter Sunday

Since my Irish childhood, Easter always brings to mind W. B. Yeats’ powerful poem “Easter 1916.”  He wrote it in honor of the “Irish Rising” against British rule that began on Easter Monday 1916, the name and date deliberately chosen to echo the rising of Jesus. Yeats’ refrain throughout the poem is “All changed, changed utterly.  A terrible beauty is born.”  It captured well the rebirth of the Irish nation through that Easter Rising – one hundred years ago this year. It also names the import of Easter for all who believe that “Christ is risen.” If we really believe it! » Read more

Sixth Sunday of Lent

Christian faith is riddled with paradoxes; yes, self-contradictory truth claims that are literally “contrary to reason” (para - doxa).  For starters, we can recognize at least three in this Palm Sunday readings. The first is of Christ the King of the world riding into the eternal city of Jerusalem on an ass (Matthew’s word, not mine!). The second is well captured in Paul’s description of Jesus’ self-emptying: “though he was in the form of God” yet “he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness.”  So, in Jesus, God was among us as one of ourselves. What a paradox!  Then, the third and ultimate paradox is today’s passion story of a Crucified God. Indeed, faith in such paradoxes (we might soften to “mysteries”) requires big leaps! » Read more

Fifth Sunday of Lent

In an amazing book entitled The Sunflower, Simon Wiesenthal, the renowned Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter, poses one of life’s ultimate questions – to forgive wrongs or not. He tells a true story of when he was a prisoner in a concentration camp and being requested by a young dying Nazi soldier for “a Jew’s forgiveness” for a terrible crime he had committed.  Though Wiesenthal walked away without responding, he poses the question to all of us “what would you have done?” » Read more

Fourth Sunday of Lent

As a committed Catholic Christian, I find the Pew reports on religion in America alarming - and discouraging. The latest study (May 2015) indicates that almost 13% of Americans now identify themselves as “former Catholics”; this would represent some 40 million people – in the US alone. I wonder what my Church is doing that is so effective in driving people away – and how can we stop doing it? » Read more

Third Sunday of Lent

Atheists and theists each take a gamble, and we both have our moments of doubt.  For theists the great stumbling block, of course, is all the suffering in the world; for atheists it is all the goodness in the world.  (I have an atheist friend who recently fell madly in love with a wonderful woman who, likewise, loves him deeply; it has really shaken his unbelief). The agnostic, then, decides not to decide, preferring to err on the side of caution – which can’t be much fun at all! » Read more

Second Sunday of Lent

If you play association-of-ideas around Christian denominations you will likely find that people’s first thought about Baptists is Bible, about Evangelicals is Jesus, and for Catholics it is Church. At least so says a friend of mine who likes to play such games at family gatherings - and I believe him. » Read more

First Sunday of Lent

The great Jewish scholar Elie Weisel tells an old Chasidic tale of Rabbi Baal Shem Tov; the punch line is that “God made humankind because God loves stories” (Google it). So, being made in the Divine image, no wonder we love stories too. » Read more

Lenten Reflections: Ash Wednesday

I’m just wondering – do I need Lent at all this year? Now, my spouse certainly thinks I do, and my teenage son would agree, but let’s say, “that’s just because they love me” (and live with me). Too close to be objective! » Read more

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