Lent is a 40-day season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. It is a period of preparation to celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter. During Lent, we seek the Lord in prayer by reading Sacred Scripture; we serve by giving alms; and we practice self-control through fasting. We are called not only to abstain from luxuries during Lent, but to a true inner conversion of heart as we seek to follow Christ’s will more faithfully. We recall the waters of baptism in which we were also baptized into Christ’s death, died to sin and evil, and began our new life in Christ.
Lent 2024 begins on Ash Wednesday (February 14), and ends at sundown on Holy Thursday (March 28).
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Flocknote Lenten Reflections
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Father Byrnes Lenten Reflections
Stations of the Cross
I - Jesus is Condemned to Death
“Once more Pilate went out and said to them, ‘Look, I am bringing him out to you, so that you may know that I find no guilt in him.’
So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak. And he said to them, ‘Behold, the man!’
When the chief priests and the guards saw him they cried out, ‘Crucify him, crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him.’
The Jews answered, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.’
Now when Pilate heard this statement, he became even more afraid,
and went back into the praetorium and said to Jesus, ‘Where are you from?’ Jesus did not answer him.
So Pilate said to him, ‘Do you not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?’
Jesus answered [him], ‘You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. For this reason the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.’
Consequently, Pilate tried to release him; but the Jews cried out, ‘If you release him, you are not a Friend of Caesar. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.’
When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus out and seated him on the judge’s bench in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha.
It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon. And he said to the Jews, ‘Behold, your king!’
They cried out, ‘Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Shall I crucify your king?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar.’
Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.”
My Jesus, the world still has You on trial. It keeps asking who You are and why You make the demands You make. It asks over and over the question, if You are God’s Son, why do You permit the world to be in the state it is in? Why are You so silent?
Though the arrogance of the world angers me, I must admit that silently, in the depths of my soul, I too have these questions. Your humility frustrates me and makes me uncomfortable. Your strength before Pilate as You drank deeply from the power of the Father, gives me the answer to my question – The Father’s Will. The Father permits many sufferings in my life but it is all for my good. If only I too could be silent in the face of worldly prudence – steadfast in the faith when all seems lost – calm when accused unjustly – free from tyranny of human respect – ready to do the Father’s Will no matter how difficult.
Silent Jesus, give us all the graces w need to stand tall in the face of the ridicule of the world. Give the poor the strength not to succumb to their privation but to be ever aware of their dignity as sons of God. Grant that we might not bend to the crippling disease of worldly glory but be willing to be deprived of all things rather than lose Your friendship. My Jesus, though we are accused daily of being fools, let the vision of Quiet Dignity standing before Monstrous Injustice, give us all the courage to be Your followers.
II - Jesus is Given His Cross
“So they took Jesus,
and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha.”
How could any human impose such a burden upon Your torn and bleeding body, Lord Jesus? Each movement of the cross drove the thorns deeper into Your Head. How did You keep the hatred from welling up in Your Heart? How did the injustice of it all not ruffle your peace? The Father’s Will was hard on You – Why do I complain when it is hard on me?
I see injustice and am frustrated and when my plans to alleviate it seem futile, I despair. When I see those burdened with poverty suffer ever more and cross is added to cross my heart is far from serene. I utterly fail to see the dignity of the cross as it is carried with love. I would so much rather be without it.
My worldly concept is that suffering, like food, should be shared equally. How ridiculous I am, dear Lord. Just as we do not all need the same amount of material food, neither do we need the same amount of spiritual food and that is what the cross is in my life, isn’t it – spiritual food proportional to my needs.
III - Jesus Falls the First Time
My Jesus, it seems to me, that as God, You would have carried Your cross without faltering, but You did not. You fell beneath its weight to show me You understand when I fall. Is it pride that makes me want to shine even in pain? You were not ashamed to fall – to admit the cross was heavy. There are those in the world whom my pride will not tolerate as I expect everyone to be strong, yet I am weak. I am ashamed to admit failure in anything.
If the Father permits failure in my life just as He permitted You to fall, then I must know there is good in that failure which my mind will never comprehend. I must not concentrate on the eyes of others as they rest upon me in my falls. Rather, I must reach up to touch that invisible hand and drink in that invisible strength ever at my side.
Weak Jesus, help all men who try so hard to be good but whose nature is constantly opposed to them walking straight and tall down the narrow road of life. Raise their heads to see the glory that is to come rather than the misery of the present moment.
Your love for me gave You strength to rise from Your fall. Look upon all those whom the world considers unprofitable servants and give them the courage to be more concerned as to how they stand before You, rather than their fellowmen.
IV - Jesus Meets His Mother
My Jesus, it was a great sorrow to realize Your pain caused Mary so much grief. As Redeemer, You wanted her to share in Your pain for mankind. When You glanced at each other in unutterable suffering, what gave you both the courage to carry on without the least alleviation – without anger at such injustice?
It seems as if you desired to suffer every possible pain to give me an example of how to suffer when my time comes. What a humiliation for You when Your mother saw you in such a pitiable state – weak, helpless, at the mercy of sinful men, holiness exposed to evil in all hideousness.
Did every moment of that short encounter seem like an eternity? As I see so much suffering in the world, there are times I think it is all hopeless. There is an element of lethargy in my prayers for mankind that says “I’ll pray, but what good will it do? The sick grow sicker and the hungry starve.” I think of that glance between You and Mary – the glance that said, “Let us give this misery to the Father for the salvation of souls. The Father’s power takes our pain and frustration and renews souls, saves them for a new life, a life of eternal joy, eternal happiness. It is worth it all.” Give perseverance to the sick so they can carry the cross of frustration and agony with love and resignation for the salvation of others.
V - Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross
“They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.”
My Jesus, Your tormentors enlisted a Simon of Cyrene to help You carry Your cross. Your humility is beyond my comprehension. Your power upheld the whole universe and yet You permit one of Your creatures to help You carry a cross. I imagine Simon was reluctant to take part in Your shame. He had no idea that all who watched and jeered at him would pass into oblivion while his name would go down in history and eternity as the one who helped his God in need. Is it not so with me, dear Jesus? Even when I reluctantly carry my cross as Simon did, it benefits my soul.
If I keep my eyes on You and watch how You suffered, I will be able to bear my cross with greater fortitude. Were you trying to tell all those who suffer from prejudice to have courage? Was Simon a symbol of all those who are hated because of race, color, and creed?
Simon wondered as he took those beams upon his shoulders, why he was chosen for such a heavy burden and now he knows. Help me Jesus, to trust your loving Providence as you permit suffering to eave itself in and out of my life. Make me understand that You looked at it and held it fondly before You passed it on to me. You watch me and give me strength just as You did Simon. When I enter Your Kingdom, I shall know as he knows, what marvels Your Cross has wrought in my soul.
IV - Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
My Jesus, where were all the hundreds of peoples whose bodies and souls were healed by You? Where were they when You needed someone to give You the least sign of comfort? Ingratitude must have borne down upon Your heart and made the cross nearly impossible to carry. There are times I too feel all my efforts for Your Kingdom are futile and end in nothingness. Did Your eyes roam through the crowd for the comfort of just one individual, one sign of pity, one sign of grief?
My heart thrills with a sad joy when I think of one woman, breaking away from fear and human respect and offering You her thin veil to wipe Your bleeding Face. Your loving heart, ever watching for the least sign of love, imprinted the Image of your torn Face upon it! How can You forget Yourself so completely and reward such a small act of kindness?
I must admit, I have been among those who were afraid to know You rather than like Veronica. She did not care if the whole world knew she loved You. Heartbroken Jesus, give me that quality of the soul so necessary to witness to spread Your Word, to tell all people of Your love for them. Send many into Your Vineyard so the people of all nations may receive the Good News. Imprint your Divine Image upon my soul and let the thin veil of my human nature bear a perfect resemblance to Your loving Spirit.
VII - Jesus Falls a Second Time
My Jesus, one of the beautiful qualities the people admired in You was Your strength in time of ridicule, Your ability to rise above the occasion. But now, You fall a second time, apparently conquered by the pain of the Cross. People who judged You by appearances made a terrible mistake. What looked like weakness was unparalleled strength!
I often judge by appearances and how wrong I am most of the time. The world judges entirely by this fraudulent method of discerning. It looks down upon those who apparently have given their best and are now in need. It judges the poor as failures, the sick as useless, and the aged as a burden. How wrong that kind of judgment is in the light of Your second fall! Your greatest moment was Your weakest one. Your greatest triumph was in failure. Your greatest act of love was in desolation. Your greatest show of power was in that utter lack of strength that threw You to the ground.
Weak and powerful Jesus, give me the grace to see beyond what is visible and be more aware of Your Wisdom in the midst of weakness. Give the aged, sick, handicapped, deaf, and blind the fruit of joy, so they may ever be aware of the Father’s gift and the vast difference between what the world sees and what the Father sees, that they may glorify in their weakness so the power of God may be manifest.
VIII - Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
“A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him.
Jesus turned to them and said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children,
for indeed the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’
At that time people will say to the mountains, ‘Fall upon us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’
for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?’ “
My Jesus, I am amazed at Your compassion for others in Your time of need. When I suffer, I have a tendency to think only of myself, but You forgot Yourself completely. When You saw the holy women weeping over Your torments, You consoled them and taught them to look deeper into Your Passion. You wanted them to understand that the real evil to cry over was the rejection You suffered from the Chosen people, a people set apart from every other nation, who refused to accept God’s Son.
The Act of Redemption would go on and no one would ever be able to take away Your dignity as Son of God, but the evil, greed, jealousy, and ambition in the hearts of those who should have recognized You was the issue to grieve over. To be so close to God made man and miss Him completely was the real crime.
My Jesus, I fear I do the same when I strain gnats and then swallow camels, when I take out the splinter in my brother’s eye and forget the beam in my own. It is such a gift, this gift of faith. It is such a sublime grace to possess Your own Spirit. Why haven’t I advanced in holiness of life? I miss the many disguises you take upon Yourself and see only people, circumstances, and human events, not the loving hand of the Father guiding all things. Help all those who are discouraged, sick, lonely, and old to recognize Your Presence in their midst.
IX - Jesus Falls a Third Time
My Jesus, even with the help of Simon You fell a third time. Were You telling me that there may be times in my life that I will fall again and again despite the help of friends and loved ones? There are times when the crosses You permit in my life are more than I can bear. It is as if all the sufferings of a life time are suddenly compressed into the present moment and it is more than I can stand.
Though it grieves my heart to see You so weak and helpless, it is a comfort to my soul to know that You understand my sufferings from Your own experience. Your love for me made You want to experience every kind of pain just so I could have someone to look to for example and courage.
When I cry out from the depths of my soul, “This suffering is more than I can bear,” do You whisper, “Yes, I understand”? When I am discouraged after many fails, do You say in my innermost being, “Keep going, I know how hard it is to rise”?
There are many people who are sorely tired in body and soul with alcohol and drug weaknesses who try and try and fall again and again. Through the humiliation of this third fall, give them the courage and perseverance to take up their cross and follow You.
X - Jesus is Stripped of His Garments
“When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four shares, a share for each soldier. They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top down.
So they said to one another, ‘Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be,’ in order that the passage of scripture might be fulfilled [that says]:
“‘They divided my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.’
This is what the soldiers did.”
It seems that every step to Cavalry brought You fresh humiliation, my Jesus. How Your sensitive nature recoiled at being stripped before a crowd of people. You desired to leave this life as You entered it, completely detached from all the comforts of this world. You want me to know without a doubt that You loved me with an unselfish love. Your love for me caused You nothing but pain and sorrow. You gave everything and received nothing in return. Why do I find it so hard to be detached?
In Your loving mind, dear Jesus, did You look up to the Father as You stood there on that windy hill, shivering from cold and shame and trembling from fear, and ask Him to have mercy on those who would violate their purity and make love a mockery? Did You ask forgiveness for those whose greed would make them lie, cheat, and steal for a few pieces of cold silver?
Forgive us all, dear Jesus. Look upon the world with pity, for mankind has lost its way and the principles of this world make lust a fun game and luxury a necessity. Detachment has become merely another hardship of the poor and obedience the fault of the weak. Have mercy on us and grant the people of this day the courage to see and know themselves and the light to change.
XI - Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
“It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him.
The inscription of the charge against him read, ‘The King of the Jews.’
With him they crucified two revolutionaries, one on his right and one on his left.
Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days,
save yourself by coming down from the cross.’
Likewise the chief priests, with the scribes, mocked him among themselves and said, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself.’ “
It is hard to imagine a God being nailed to a cross by His own creatures. It is even more difficult for my mind to understand a love that permitted such a thing to happen! As those men drove heavy nails into Your hands and feet, dear Jesus, did You offer the pain as reparation for some particular human weakness and sin? Was the nail in Your right hand for those who spend their lives in dissipation and boredom?
Was the nail in Your left hand in reparation for all consecrated souls who live lukewarm lives? Were You stretching out Your arms to show us how much You love us? As the feet that walked the hot, dusty roads were nailed fast, did they cramp up in a deadly grip of pain to make reparation for all those who so nimbly run the broad road of sin and self-indulgence?
It seems, dear Jesus, Your love has held You bound hand and foot as Your heart pleads for a return of love. You seem to shout from the top of the hill, “I love you, come to me, see I am held fast, I cannot hurt you, only you can hurt Me.” How very hard is the heart that can see such love and turn away. Is it not true I too have turned away when I did not accept the Father’s Will with love? Teach me to keep my arms ever open to love, to forgive, and to render service, willing to be hurt rather than hurt, satisfied to love and not be loved in return.
XII - Jesus Dies on the Cross
“At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.
And at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which is translated, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’
Some of the bystanders who heard it said, ‘Look, he is calling Elijah.’
One of them ran, soaked a sponge with wine, put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to take him down.’
Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.
The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.
When the centurion who stood facing him saw how he breathed his last he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’ “
God is dead! No wonder the earth quaked, the sun hid itself, the dead rose, and Mary stood by in horror. Your human body gave up its soul in death, but Your Divinity, dear Jesus, continued to manifest its power. All creation rebelled as the Word made Flesh departed from this world. Man alone was too proud to see and too stubborn to acknowledge truth.
Redemption was accomplished! Man would never have an excuse to forget how much You loved him. The thief on Your right saw something he could not explain – he saw a man on a tree and knew He was God. His need made him see his own guilt and Your innocence. The Promise of eternal life made the remaining hours of his torture endurable.
A common thief responded to Your love with deep Faith, Hope, and Love. He saw more than his eyes envisioned, he felt a presence he could not explain and would not argue with. He was in need and accepted the way God designed to help him.
Forgive our pride, dear Jesus, as we spend hours speculating, days arguing and often a lifetime in rejecting Your death, which is a sublime mystery. Have pity on those whose intelligence leads them to pride because they never feel the need to reach out to the Man of Sorrows for consolation.
XIII - Jesus is Taken Down From the Cross
“When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph, who was himself a disciple of Jesus.
He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be handed over.”
My Jesus, it was with deep grief that Mary finally took You into her arms and saw all the wounds sin had inflicted upon You. Mary Magdalene looked upon Your dead body with horror. Nicodemus, the man so full of human respect, who came to You by night, suddenly received the courage to help Joseph take you down from the Cross. You are once more surrounded by only a few followers. When loneliness and failure cross my path, let me think of this lonely moment and this total failure, failure in the eyes of men. How wrong they were, how mistaken their concept of success! The greatest act of love was given in desolation and the most successful mission accomplished and finished when all seemed lost. Is this not true in my life, dear Jesus? I judge my failures harshly. I demand perfection instead of holiness. My idea of success is for all to end well, according to my liking.
Give to all men the grace to see that doing Your will is more important than success. If failure is permitted for my greater good, then teach me how to use it to my advantage. Let me say as You once said, that to do the will of the Father is my food. Let not the standards of this world take possession of me or destroy the good You have set for me – to be holy and to accomplish the Father’s will with great love. Let me accept praise or blame, success or failure, with equal serenity.
XIV - Jesus is Laid in the Tomb
“Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it [in] clean linen
and laid it in his new tomb that he had hewn in the rock. Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance to the tomb and departed.
But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary remained sitting there, facing the tomb.”
My Jesus, You were laid to rest in a stranger’s tomb. You were born with nothing of this world’s goods and You died detached from everything. When You came into the world, men slept and angels sang and now as You leave it, Creation is silent and only a few weep. Both events were clothed in obscurity. The majority of men live in such a way. Most of us live and die knowing and known by only a few. Were You trying to tell us, dear Jesus, how very important our lives are just because we are accomplishing the Father’s will? Will we ever learn the lesson of humility that makes us content with who we are, where we are, and what we are?
Will our faith ever be strong enough to see power in weakness and good in the sufferings of our lives? Will our hope be trusting enough to rely on Your providence even when we have nowhere to lay our head? Will our love ever be strong enough not to take scandal in the cross?
My Jesus, hide my soul in Your heart as You lie in the sepulcher alone. Let my heart be as a fire to keep You warm. Let my desire to know and love You be like a torch to light up the darkness. Let my soul sing softly a hymn of repentant love as the hours pass and Your resurrection is at hand. Let me rejoice, dear Jesus, with all the angels in a hymn of praise and thanksgiving for so great a love, so great a God, so great a day!