April 14: Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
Invitation to Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus into your hands I commend my spirit.
Reflection: I’m struck with a deep sadness at the thought of my Lord’s passion and death in the readings today. The humiliations, the false accusations, the scourging, the jeering soldiers, the chief priest and scribes accusing him, the thorns, the nails, the self-emptying sacrifice for us; “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”
In our daily prayer, how often do we ponder the depths of our Lord’s pain and suffering from our own offenses against him? How many times have we hurt him with our unbelief, doubts, worries, fears, insecurities, and withhold our mercy, forgiveness, and even acts of kindness towards our neighbor.
Prayer: My Dear Lord Jesus, into your hands I commend my spirit in all its weaknesses, failures, miss opportunities to share my gifts and talents with others, forgive me Lord.
Closing: Through this Holy week, may we gather ourselves in the presence of Jesus accompanying him in his walk toward Calvary and console him as he consoles us.
Deacon Henry Jacquez, ordained April 27th, 2013 Pastoral Associate Holy Trinity Church – Norwood, Master’s Pastoral Ministry, The Athenaeum of Ohio, married 39 years, 3 children, 4 grandsons. Love the summer conferences at Franciscan University, Steubenville Ohio.
April 15: Monday of Holy Week
Invitation to Prayer: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” –Romans 5:8
Reflection: (John 12:1-11) Today’s Gospel is about extravagance and excess, not something we typically associate with Lent. Mary pours an entire bottle of expensive perfume—apparently worth nearly a year’s wages for a daily laborer—anointing Jesus’ feet. Judas rebukes her, saying it is a waste that should have been given to the poor. As logical and sensible as that rebuke is, the Gospel writer informs us that Judas wasn’t really concerned for the poor. He was the keeper of the money bag for the poor, and stole from it. Regardless, Mary is obviously making an excessive outpouring of love in recognition of who Jesus is, what He is about to do, and how He will die. She didn’t let pious sensibilities stop her from loving Jesus as extravagantly as she could, just as God does for us.
Prayer: Help me to contemplate this week how extravagant Your love is for me, that You suffered, died and rose again for me, a sinner. May I receive the grace to see how I can give my life more fully to You, and love with extravagance as You do.
Closing: Just like the scent of ointment fills a house, the scent of prayer should also fill our lives. Holy Week invites us to spend more time with Jesus, just to bask in the extravagance of His love, the price He paid for our salvation. Whatever time you normally spend in prayer each day, try to double it this Holy week.
Bob Wurzelbacher is the Director of the Office for Respect Life Ministries for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. He received his Master of Arts in Pastoral Theology from the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, TX in 2000. He is married with two young children, 10 and 7.
April 16: Tuesday of Holy Week
Invitation to Prayer: Lord Jesus, open my heart to the hope that you offer, flawed as I am.
Reflection: Today’s Gospel mentions two betrayals. First is Judas, going off to betray Jesus to the leaders. The second is the prediction of Peter’s denial. Denial is another form of betrayal.
We, too, betray Jesus – often, and perhaps quite regularly – when we act contrary to His wishes. That may be in denying, or even just hiding, our faith. But it’s also in our betrayals of others – the body of Christ. When we fail those in need, those who are hurting, those who mourn, those who hunger, those who are strangers, and so many others that Jesus has mentioned in His ministry on earth, then we have betrayed our Lord. When we shun people, gossip about people, act unjustly towards people, or are otherwise hurtful, we are visibly denying the faith that we profess in the Creed and in the Lord’s Prayer.
Fortunately, Jesus offers us hope. Though we may not be ready to follow Him to heaven this very day, we still have the opportunity to follow Him at the appointed time. That’s true, even though He knows that we will betray Him again, multiple times. He continues to forgive us when we ask. That forgiveness is our hope for eternity!
Prayer: Dear Jesus, help me to be a faithful servant to You. Thank You for the hope of eternal life with You, which is available through Your forgiveness. The cross is Your ultimate human act of forgiveness to all people. Help me to remember Your forgiveness when I need to forgive others or to beg their forgiveness.
Closing: On Tuesday of Holy Week, we celebrate the Chrism Mass, during which the Archbishop will bless our three holy oils: Oil of Catechumens, Oil of the Infirm, and the Sacred Chrism. These oils are used in the sacraments throughout the diocese in the coming year. They are signs of God’s love and mercy. Thus, they are signs of HOPE! As we approach Easter Sunday consider ways that YOU can be a sign of hope for others.
Deacon Conrad Kolis was ordained from St Bartholomew parish in 1998. Currently serving at both St Vivian parish and St Bartholomew parish in Cincinnati, he also served 14 years at St James of the Valley, Wyoming. Married in 1981 he is father of seven and grandfather of two.
April 17: Wednesday of Holy Week
Invitation to Prayer: Lord Jesus, keep me always close to your Most Sacred Heart.
Reflection: Today is traditionally known as “Spy Wednesday,” the day that Judas was paid a measly 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus and hand Him over for crucifixion. Just six weeks ago our Churches were packed for Ash Wednesday as we all received the mark of ashes along with the charge to “repent and believe in the Gospel.” Looking over these past six weeks, how often have I fallen short and have needed to “repent” time and time again?
Judas and St. Peter both betrayed Jesus, but they came to two very different ends. The Lord calls us to greater humility following the example of St. Peter who “went out and began to weep bitterly” after his betrayal of Jesus. Because of his sincere repentance, St. Peter was called by our Lord to lead the Church and become a great Saint. Judas, on the other hand, refused the mercy of Jesus and “bought a parcel of land with the wages of his iniquity, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle, and all his insides spilled out.” Judas didn’t suddenly decide to betray Jesus. He “was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions.” He desired to transform Jesus into a worldly Messiah, rather than allowing himself to be transformed by Jesus and His saving message.
Do I act like Judas by wanting Jesus to conform to my plans and desires, rather than having an openness to His saving truth? Do I follow in the footsteps of Judas by justifying small sins as “no big deal”? If we are truthful and honest, we can all answer “yes” to these questions. So the real question is not whether or not I have betrayed Jesus, but will I repent like St. Peter and receive the mercy of Jesus, or will I remain obstinate in my sin and arrive at an end like Judas?
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, as we begin these most solemn three days in the Church, grant me humility that I may acknowledge my sins and turn to you with true repentance. Grant me the grace to celebrate the Sacred Triduum with full attentiveness and devotion, ever thankful for your sacrifice for my salvation.
Closing: Make a nightly examination of conscience and turn to the Lord’s mercy with sincere repentance.
Daniel Thimons is the Director, Marriage & Family Evangelization & Discipleship
April 18: Holy Thursday – Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Invitation to Prayer: Lord Jesus, give me a heart to serve.
Reflection: It’s Holy Thursday. Today, we begin our final journey to Calvary with Jesus and we get to enter into one of the most beautiful scenes in all of scripture, the Last Supper. It is during this meal that Jesus truly reveals with tenderness and determination the plan for His Kingdom, and for his followers, for all time.
Today’s account begins very simply: “He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end” (Jn. 13: 1). He then goes on to express that love through humility and service. It is always striking to me to think of the power of that act. If ever there was a time that Jesus deserved to just sit back and be served, it was “on the night before he was to suffer.” Instead, he takes off his garments that signified his status and rank among the group, and became the least of all and servant to all. In our own lives, we can get so caught up in our own importance and self-worth, or we can get caught up in our own struggles and suffering. We start to believe that we deserve to be served, not the other way around. However, Jesus makes it clear today that we cannot get caught up in our own needs, we cannot get caught up in our own suffering; in order to be like Christ, we must be ready to humble ourselves, take off our outer symbols of status and importance, and serve.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have given us the example of a true servant leader. Grant us the grace to follow your example and to serve without expectation of receiving anything in return.
Action: Begin a service challenge in your home. Have each person look for ways to serve the other members of the family. At the end of the day, discuss all the ways you served one another. Thank the Lord and ask for the grace to find more ways to serve tomorrow.
Wayne Topp is the Associate Director of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Vocations office who handles parish support for vocation ministry, youth engagement, and support for seminarians.