Fridays during Lent

4 p.m.

St. John Bosco Church

With Grace And Gladness


While Lent can be a somber time, it is also a celebration of what Jesus has done for us. Father Thomas Connery encourages us to observe Lent With Grace and Gladness. Reminding us that we have a God-given purpose, that life is to be enjoyed and that God loves us, Father Thomas Connery helps readers to enjoy Lent with “Grace and Gladness!” 


APRIL 3, 2017



The Stations of the Cross are an ancient tradition in the Catholic Church going back to the fourth century when Christians went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Like many of our Catholic traditions, the Stations of the Cross can be rich, deep, and meaningful, but at the same time we can lose sight of their significance and how to relate them to our everyday lives.

Continuing the idea of Pope Francis as our spiritual director this Lent, here are 8 reasons from our Holy Father on why we should pray the Stations of the Cross.


“The Cross of Christ contains all the love of God; there we find his immeasurable mercy. This is a love in which we can place all our trust, in which we can believe…. let us entrust ourselves to Jesus, let us give ourselves over to him, because he never disappoints anyone! Only in Christ crucified and risen can we find salvation and redemption.” —Address, World Youth Day, Way of the Cross, July 26, 2013


“And you, who do you want to be? Like Pilate? Like Simon? Like Mary? Jesus is looking at you now and is asking you: do you want to help me carry the Cross? Brothers and sisters, with all the strength of your youth, how will you respond to him?” —Address, World Youth Day, Way of the Cross, July 26, 2013


“The Cross of Christ bears the suffering and the sin of mankind, including our own. Jesus accepts all this with open arms, bearing on his shoulders our crosses and saying to us: ‘Have courage! You do not carry your cross alone! I carry it with you. I have overcome death and I have come to give you hope, to give you life’ (cf. Jn 3:16).” —Address, World Youth Day, Way of the Cross, July 26, 2013


“But the Cross of Christ invites us also to allow ourselves to be smitten by his love, teaching us always to look upon others with mercy and tenderness, especially those who suffer, who are in need of help, who need a word or a concrete action.” —Address, World Youth Day, Way of the Cross, July 26, 2013


“[The Cross] reveals a judgment, namely that God, in judging us, loves us. Let us remember this: God judges us by loving us. If I embrace his love then I am saved, if I refuse it, then I am condemned, not by him, but my own self, because God never condemns, he only loves and saves.” —Address, Good Friday, March 29, 2013


“The Cross is the word through which God has responded to evil in the world. Sometimes it may seem as though God does not react to evil, as if he is silent. And yet, God has spoken, he has replied, and his answer is the Cross of Christ: a word which is love, mercy, forgiveness.” – Address, Good Friday, March 29, 2013


“What has the Cross given to those who have gazed upon it and to those who have touched it? What has the Cross left in each one of us? You see, it gives us a treasure that no one else can give: the certainty of the faithful love which God has for us.” – Address, World Youth Day, Way of the Cross, July 26, 2013


“O, Our Jesus, guide us from the Cross to the resurrection and teach us that evil shall not have the last word, but love, mercy and forgiveness. O Christ, help us to exclaim again: ‘Yesterday I was crucified with Christ; today I am glorified with Him. Yesterday I died with Him, today I live with Him. Yesterday I was buried with Him, today I am raised with Him’”.” – Address, Good Friday, April 18, 2014




“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem” (Mt 20:18)

Lent: a Time for Renewing Faith, Hope and Love


Dear Brothers and Sisters,


Jesus revealed to his disciples the deepest meaning of his mission when he told them of his passion, death and resurrection, in fulfilment of the Father’s will. He then called the disciples to share in this mission for the salvation of the world.


In our Lenten journey towards Easter, let us remember the One who “humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). During this season of conversion, let us renew our faith, draw from the “living water” of hope, and receive with open hearts the love of God, who makes us brothers and sisters in Christ. At the Easter vigil, we will renew our baptismal promises and experience rebirth as new men and women by the working of the Holy Spirit. This Lenten journey, like the entire pilgrimage of the Christian life, is even now illumined by the light of the resurrection, which inspires the thoughts, attitudes and decisions of the followers of Christ.


Fasting, prayer and almsgiving, as preached by Jesus (cf. Mt 6:1-18), enable and express our conversion. The path of poverty and self-denial (fasting), concern and loving care for the poor (almsgiving), and childlike dialogue with the Father (prayer) make it possible for us to live lives of sincere faith, living hope and effective charity.


1. Faith calls us to accept the truth and testify to it before God and all our brothers and sisters. In this Lenten season, accepting and living the truth revealed in Christ means, first of all, opening our hearts to God’s word, which the Church passes on from generation to generation. This truth is not an abstract concept reserved for a chosen intelligent few. Instead, it is a message that all of us can receive and understand thanks to the wisdom of a heart open to the grandeur of God, who loves us even before we are aware of it. Christ himself is this truth. By taking on our humanity, even to its very limits, he has made himself the way – demanding, yet open to all – that leads to the fullness of life.


Fasting, experienced as a form of self-denial, helps those who undertake it in simplicity of heart to rediscover God’s gift and to recognize that, created in his image and likeness, we find our fulfilment in him. In embracing the experience of poverty, those who fast make themselves poor with the poor and accumulate the treasure of a love both received and shared. In this way, fasting helps us to love God and our neighbour, inasmuch as love, as Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches, is a movement outwards that focuses our attention on others and considers them as one with ourselves (cf. Fratelli Tutti, 93).


Lent is a time for believing, for welcoming God into our lives and allowing him to “make his dwelling” among us (cf. Jn 14:23). Fasting involves being freed from all that weighs us down – like consumerism or an excess of information, whether true or false – in order to open the doors of our hearts to the One who comes to us, poor in all things, yet “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14): the Son of God our Saviour.


2. Hope as “living water” enabling us to continue our journey.


The Samaritan woman at the well, whom Jesus asks for a drink, does not understand what he means when he says that he can offer her “living water” (Jn 4:10). Naturally, she thinks that he is referring to material water, but Jesus is speaking of the Holy Spirit whom he will give in abundance through the paschal mystery, bestowing a hope that does not disappoint. Jesus had already spoken of this hope when, in telling of his passion and death, he said that he would “be raised on the third day” (Mt 20:19). Jesus was speaking of the future opened up by the Father’s mercy. Hoping with him and because of him means believing that history does not end with our mistakes, our violence and injustice, or the sin that crucifies Love. It means receiving from his open heart the Father’s forgiveness.


In these times of trouble, when everything seems fragile and uncertain, it may appear challenging to speak of hope. Yet Lent is precisely the season of hope, when we turn back to God who patiently continues to care for his creation which we have often mistreated (cf. Laudato Si’, 32-33; 43-44). Saint Paul urges us to place our hope in reconciliation: “Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20). By receiving forgiveness in the sacrament that lies at the heart of our process of conversion, we in turn can spread forgiveness to others. Having received forgiveness ourselves, we can offer it through our willingness to enter into attentive dialogue with others and to give comfort to those 2 experiencing sorrow and pain. God’s forgiveness, offered also through our words and actions, enables us to experience an Easter of fraternity.


In Lent, may we be increasingly concerned with “speaking words of comfort, strength, consolation and encouragement, and not words that demean, sadden, anger or show scorn” (Fratelli Tutti, 223). In order to give hope to others, it is sometimes enough simply to be kind, to be “willing to set everything else aside in order to show interest, to give the gift of a smile, to speak a word of encouragement, to listen amid general indifference” (ibid., 224).


Through recollection and silent prayer, hope is given to us as inspiration and interior light, illuminating the challenges and choices we face in our mission. Hence the need to pray (cf. Mt 6:6) and, in secret, to encounter the Father of tender love.


To experience Lent in hope entails growing in the realization that, in Jesus Christ, we are witnesses of new times, in which God is “making all things new” (cf. Rev 21:1-6). It means receiving the hope of Christ, who gave his life on the cross and was raised by God on the third day, and always being “prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls [us] to account for the hope that is in [us]” (1 Pet 3:15).


3. Love, following in the footsteps of Christ, in concern and compassion for all, is the highest expression of our faith and hope.


Love rejoices in seeing others grow. Hence it suffers when others are anguished, lonely, sick, homeless, despised or in need. Love is a leap of the heart; it brings us out of ourselves and creates bonds of sharing and communion.


“‘Social love’ makes it possible to advance towards a civilization of love, to which all of us can feel called. With its impulse to universality, love is capable of building a new world. No mere sentiment, it is the best means of discovering effective paths of development for everyone” (Fratelli Tutti, 183).


Love is a gift that gives meaning to our lives. It enables us to view those in need as members of our own family, as friends, brothers or sisters. A small amount, if given with love, never ends, but becomes a source of life and happiness. Such was the case with the jar of meal and jug of oil of the widow of Zarephath, who offered a cake of bread to the prophet Elijah (cf. 1 Kings 17:7-16); it was also the case with the loaves blessed, broken and given by Jesus to the disciples to distribute to the crowd (cf. Mk 6:30-44). Such is the case too with our almsgiving, whether small or large, when offered with joy and simplicity.


To experience Lent with love means caring for those who suffer or feel abandoned and fearful because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In these days of deep uncertainty about the future, let us keep 3 in mind the Lord’s word to his Servant, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you” (Is 43:1). In our charity, may we speak words of reassurance and help others to realize that God loves them as sons and daughters.


“Only a gaze transformed by charity can enable the dignity of others to be recognized and, as a consequence, the poor to be acknowledged and valued in their dignity, respected in their identity and culture, and thus truly integrated into society” (Fratelli Tutti, 187).


Dear brothers and sisters, every moment of our lives is a time for believing, hoping and loving. The call to experience Lent as a journey of conversion, prayer and sharing of our goods, helps us – as communities and as individuals – to revive the faith that comes from the living Christ, the hope inspired by the breath of the Holy Spirit and the love flowing from the merciful heart of the Father.


May Mary, Mother of the Saviour, ever faithful at the foot of the cross and in the heart of the Church, sustain us with her loving presence. May the blessing of the risen Lord accompany all of us on our journey towards the light of Easter.


Rome, Saint John Lateran, 11 November 2020, the Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours




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«Mirad, estamos subiendo a Jerusalén...» (Mt 20,18).

Cuaresma: un tiempo para renovar la fe, la esperanza y la caridad.


Queridos hermanos y hermanas:


Cuando Jesús anuncia a sus discípulos su pasión, muerte y resurrección, para cumplir con la voluntad del Padre, les revela el sentido profundo de su misión y los exhorta a asociarse a ella, para la salvación del mundo.


Recorriendo el camino cuaresmal, que nos conducirá a las celebraciones pascuales, recordemos a Aquel que «se humilló a sí mismo, hecho obediente hasta la muerte, y una muerte de cruz» (Flp 2,8). En este tiempo de conversión renovemos nuestra fe, saciemos nuestra sed con el “agua viva” de la esperanza y recibamos con el corazón abierto el amor de Dios que nos convierte en hermanos y hermanas en Cristo. En la noche de Pascua renovaremos las promesas de nuestro Bautismo, para renacer como hombres y mujeres nuevos, gracias a la obra del Espíritu Santo. Sin embargo, el itinerario de la Cuaresma, al igual que todo el camino cristiano, ya está bajo la luz de la Resurrección, que anima los sentimientos, las actitudes y las decisiones de quien desea seguir a Cristo.


El ayuno, la oración y la limosna, tal como los presenta Jesús en su predicación (cf. Mt 6,1-18), son las condiciones y la expresión de nuestra conversión. La vía de la pobreza y de la privación (el ayuno), la mirada y los gestos de amor hacia el hombre herido (la limosna) y el diálogo filial con el Padre (la oración) nos permiten encarnar una fe sincera, una esperanza viva y una caridad operante.


1. La fe nos llama a acoger la Verdad y a ser testigos, ante Dios y ante nuestros hermanos y hermanas.


En este tiempo de Cuaresma, acoger y vivir la Verdad que se manifestó en Cristo significa ante todo dejarse alcanzar por la Palabra de Dios, que la Iglesia nos transmite de generación en generación. Esta Verdad no es una construcción del intelecto, destinada a pocas mentes elegidas, superiores o ilustres, sino que es un mensaje que recibimos y podemos comprender gracias a la inteligencia del corazón, abierto a la grandeza de Dios que nos ama antes de que nosotros mismos seamos conscientes de ello. Esta Verdad es Cristo mismo que, asumiendo plenamente nuestra humanidad, se hizo Camino —exigente pero abierto a todos— que lleva a la plenitud de la Vida.


El ayuno vivido como experiencia de privación, para quienes lo viven con sencillez de corazón lleva a descubrir de nuevo el don de Dios y a comprender nuestra realidad de criaturas que, a su imagen y semejanza, encuentran en Él su cumplimiento. Haciendo la experiencia de una pobreza aceptada, quien ayuna se hace pobre con los pobres y “acumula” la riqueza del amor recibido y compartido. Así entendido y puesto en práctica, el ayuno contribuye a amar a Dios y al prójimo en cuanto, como nos enseña santo Tomás de Aquino, el amor es un movimiento que centra la atención en el otro considerándolo como uno consigo mismo (cf. Carta enc. Fratelli tutti, 93).


La Cuaresma es un tiempo para creer, es decir, para recibir a Dios en nuestra vida y permitirle “poner su morada” en nosotros (cf. Jn 14,23). Ayunar significa liberar nuestra existencia de todo lo que estorba, incluso de la saturación de informaciones —verdaderas o falsas— y productos de consumo, para abrir las puertas de nuestro corazón a Aquel que viene a nosotros pobre de todo, pero «lleno de gracia y de verdad» (Jn 1,14): el Hijo de Dios Salvador.


2. La esperanza como “agua viva” que nos permite continuar nuestro camino   


La samaritana, a quien Jesús pide que le dé de beber junto al pozo, no comprende cuando Él le dice que podría ofrecerle un «agua viva» (Jn 4,10). Al principio, naturalmente, ella piensa en el agua material, mientras que Jesús se refiere al Espíritu Santo, aquel que Él dará en abundancia en el Misterio pascual y que infunde en nosotros la esperanza que no defrauda. Al anunciar su pasión y muerte Jesús ya anuncia la esperanza, cuando dice: «Y al tercer día resucitará» (Mt 20,19). Jesús nos habla del futuro que la misericordia del Padre ha abierto de par en par. Esperar con Él y gracias a Él quiere decir creer que la historia no termina con nuestros errores, nuestras violencias e injusticias, ni con el pecado que crucifica al Amor. Significa saciarnos del perdón del Padre en su Corazón abierto.


En el actual contexto de preocupación en el que vivimos y en el que todo parece frágil e incierto, hablar de esperanza podría parecer una provocación. El tiempo de Cuaresma está hecho para esperar, para volver a dirigir la mirada a la paciencia de Dios, que sigue cuidando de su Creación, 2 mientras que nosotros a menudo la maltratamos (cf. Carta enc. Laudato si’, 32-33;43-44). Es esperanza en la reconciliación, a la que san Pablo nos exhorta con pasión: «Os pedimos que os reconciliéis con Dios» (2 Co 5,20). Al recibir el perdón, en el Sacramento que está en el corazón de nuestro proceso de conversión, también nosotros nos convertimos en difusores del perdón: al haberlo acogido nosotros, podemos ofrecerlo, siendo capaces de vivir un diálogo atento y adoptando un comportamiento que conforte a quien se encuentra herido. El perdón de Dios, también mediante nuestras palabras y gestos, permite vivir una Pascua de fraternidad.


En la Cuaresma, estemos más atentos a «decir palabras de aliento, que reconfortan, que fortalecen, que consuelan, que estimulan», en lugar de «palabras que humillan, que entristecen, que irritan, que desprecian» (Carta enc. Fratelli tutti [FT], 223). A veces, para dar esperanza, es suficiente con ser «una persona amable, que deja a un lado sus ansiedades y urgencias para prestar atención, para regalar una sonrisa, para decir una palabra que estimule, para posibilitar un espacio de escucha en medio de tanta indiferencia» (ibíd., 224).


En el recogimiento y el silencio de la oración, se nos da la esperanza como inspiración y luz interior, que ilumina los desafíos y las decisiones de nuestra misión: por esto es fundamental recogerse en oración (cf. Mt 6,6) y encontrar, en la intimidad, al Padre de la ternura.


Vivir una Cuaresma con esperanza significa sentir que, en Jesucristo, somos testigos del tiempo nuevo, en el que Dios “hace nuevas todas las cosas” (cf. Ap 21,1-6). Significa recibir la esperanza de Cristo que entrega su vida en la cruz y que Dios resucita al tercer día, “dispuestos siempre para dar explicación a todo el que nos pida una razón de nuestra esperanza” (cf. 1 P 3,15).


3. La caridad, vivida tras las huellas de Cristo, mostrando atención y compasión por cada persona, es la expresión más alta de nuestra fe y nuestra esperanza.


La caridad se alegra de ver que el otro crece. Por este motivo, sufre cuando el otro está angustiado: solo, enfermo, sin hogar, despreciado, en situación de necesidad… La caridad es el impulso del corazón que nos hace salir de nosotros mismos y que suscita el vínculo de la cooperación y de la comunión.


«A partir del “amor social” es posible avanzar hacia una civilización del amor a la que todos podamos sentirnos convocados. La caridad, con su dinamismo universal, puede construir un mundo nuevo, porque no es un sentimiento estéril, sino la mejor manera de lograr caminos eficaces de desarrollo para todos» (FT, 183).


La caridad es don que da sentido a nuestra vida y gracias a este consideramos a quien se ve privado de lo necesario como un miembro de nuestra familia, amigo, hermano. Lo poco que tenemos, si lo compartimos con amor, no se acaba nunca, sino que se transforma en una reserva de vida y de felicidad. Así sucedió con la harina y el aceite de la viuda de Sarepta, que dio el pan 3 al profeta Elías (cf. 1 R 17,7-16); y con los panes que Jesús bendijo, partió y dio a los discípulos para que los distribuyeran entre la gente (cf. Mc 6,30-44). Así sucede con nuestra limosna, ya sea grande o pequeña, si la damos con gozo y sencillez.


Vivir una Cuaresma de caridad quiere decir cuidar a quienes se encuentran en condiciones de sufrimiento, abandono o angustia a causa de la pandemia de COVID-19. En un contexto tan incierto sobre el futuro, recordemos la palabra que Dios dirige a su Siervo: «No temas, que te he redimido» (Is 43,1), ofrezcamos con nuestra caridad una palabra de confianza, para que el otro sienta que Dios lo ama como a un hijo.


«Sólo con una mirada cuyo horizonte esté transformado por la caridad, que le lleva a percibir la dignidad del otro, los pobres son descubiertos y valorados en su inmensa dignidad, respetados en su estilo propio y en su cultura y, por lo tanto, verdaderamente integrados en la sociedad» (FT, 187).


Queridos hermanos y hermanas: Cada etapa de la vida es un tiempo para creer, esperar y amar. Este llamado a vivir la Cuaresma como camino de conversión y oración, y para compartir nuestros bienes, nos ayuda a reconsiderar, en nuestra memoria comunitaria y personal, la fe que viene de Cristo vivo, la esperanza animada por el soplo del Espíritu y el amor, cuya fuente inagotable es el corazón misericordioso del Padre.


Que María, Madre del Salvador, fiel al pie de la cruz y en el corazón de la Iglesia, nos sostenga con su presencia solícita, y la bendición de Cristo resucitado nos acompañe en el camino hacia la luz pascual. 


Roma, San Juan de Letrán, 11 de noviembre de 2020, memoria de san Martín de Tours.




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