Nous t’en prions, Dieu tout-puissant : purifie-nous au long de ce carême, pour que nous parvenions avec un cœur limpide aux fêtes pascales qui approchent. Par Jésus Christ… Amen.

Dieu dit: «Faisons l’homme à notre image, selon notre ressemblance.» (Genèse, chapitre 1, verset 26)

Dieu a créé l’homme à son image, c’est la Bible qui le dit. En un peu moins beau tout de même, ai-je souvent envie d’ajouter en écoutant les informations. À travers ses guerres, sa violence, son égoïsme, l’homme ne donne pas toujours à voir en lui la face resplendissante de Dieu.
En nettement moins beau, décidément, me dis-je en secouant la tête devant mon miroir. Car si je me sens loin, Dieu merci, des criminels ou des bourreaux qui peuplent les journaux, je ne suis pas bien sûr de refléter beaucoup mieux son visage.
Il y a mon péché, qui m’humilie à force de répétition ; il y a mes petites mesquineries, mon horizon trop étroit, que je ne sais pas élargir ; il y a ma résignation, surtout, à n’être pas un saint, mon manque d’envie, parfois mon découragement. Rien de bien dramatique, sans doute. Mais je suppose que Dieu est autrement plus présentable. « Faisons l’homme à notre image, selon notre ressemblance », avait-il dit ; pourtant, si je sens bien qu’il y a en moi quelque chose de plus grand que moi, quelque chose de divin, je constate également que bien souvent, je ne suis pas à la hauteur.
Cette dissonance en moi, des théologiens anciens l’ont expliquée ainsi : dans notre chute, nous avons conservé en nous l’image de Dieu, mais nous avons perdu la ressemblance. Nous laisser relever, cela consiste justement à retrouver cette ressemblance. Car en la perdant, je me suis perdu moi-même. « Cela ne me ressemble pas », c’est ce que je dis quand j’ai fait quelque chose dont j’ai honte.
Et parfois, j’ai l’impression de ne plus tellement me ressembler.
C’est pour cela que le Christ, en ce début de carême, nous invite à le suivre au désert. Pas pour fuir les hommes, encore moins pour me fuir moi-même, mais pour retrouver les chemins de l’intimité avec Dieu, le temps passé à écouter sa parole ou simplement à être avec lui dans tout ce qui occupe mon quotidien.
Car c’est cette intimité qui me rendra cette ressemblance, comme deux vieux amis qui n’ont pas du tout les mêmes traits, mais qui finissent par partager, après des années de familiarité, le même inimitable sourire.

– Frère Adrien Candiard


Samedi saint

1. Ce samedi est un jour pour revenir sur ce qui s’est passé depuis le soir du Jeudi Saint. La Passion et la mort de Jésus sur la croix sont des événements d’une telle profondeur, que l’on ne peut assimiler rapidement leur signification. Nous avons besoin de temps pour contempler ce qui s’est passé. Les disciples de Jésus furent profondément désorientés par son arrestation et sa mort. D’une certaine manière, devant ces événements qui nous ont été fidèlement rapportés, nous devons ressentir aussi un certain bouleversement. D’autant plus que nous avons à notre disposition la réflexion de l’Église depuis deux mille ans, qui nous aide à mieux comprendre le véritable sens du Vendredi Saint. Au message de paix et de miséricorde de Jésus, notre réponse est souvent la haine et le mépris.

2. Mais le Samedi Saint est aussi un jour de préparation pour la Résurrection. Jésus est venu pour vaincre la mort et nous sauver du péché. Et cette victoire, il va justement la faire resplendir en pardonnant le péché le plus terrible que l’homme pouvait faire. Dans son amour, c’est de ce même péché qu’il va faire jaillir les grâces de salut pour le monde. Du cœur de Jésus transpercé sur la croix se répandent partout et à toutes les époques les flots de sa miséricorde.

3. En somme, en ce Samedi Saint, c’est tout l’itinéraire du Carême qui se condense comme dans une seule journée : repentir de nos péchés, conversion, espérance de la Résurrection et de la victoire de Jésus. Cette nuit, le Christ nous montrera le fruit de l’amour de celui qui se donne jusqu’au bout, le fruit du pardon, le fruit d’un cœur qui déborde de miséricorde : la vie qui prend une victoire définitive contre la mort. C’est de cette victoire que Jésus nous invite maintenant à participer.

–  Frère Jean Marie Fornerod, LC

Things to do on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week

  • Pray the Stations of the Cross. Those are not only reserved for Fridays.
  • Housecleaning. It is traditional to do housecleaning during the first part of Holy Week. In one part, it is a symbol of our Lenten’s renewal. In second part, it is to prepare our houses for the celebration of Easter and also the blessing of the houses by the priest on Holy Saturday. Note that the cleaning should be nearly finished by Wednesday of Holy Week and the remainder of the Holy Week should be semi-holidays. Spring cleaning isn’t only a secular activity, even for the Jews it was customary to clean the house in preparation of Pasch.
  • Eat more simple meals. To sacrifice dessert or a more expensive cut of meat will help the family members become more aware of the austerity of this week. Meals don’t have to be less nutritious or filling.
  • Pray more. Include more prayers in your daily life.
  • Attend mass daily. Try to attend, if possible, mass daily for Holy Week.

Daily suggestion for Lent

Read a portion of Scripture every day.

There are many ways to read the Scriptures every day even without opening a Bible, in a daily missal, online, on a smartphone app such as Laudate or New Missal, but the best way is still to listen to the readings at Mass. However, hearing Scripture on Sunday is not enough, not by a long shot.

Scripture is “food for the soul” (Dei Verbum, 21). Who eats just once a week? To survive and strive, you need daily nourishment. You can have a steady diet of Scripture by attending Mass daily, participating in the Liturgy of the Hours, or reading Scripture in daily prayer. Actually, all three make an unbeatable combination.

The writers of Sacred Scripture were inspired by the Holy Spirit. But it is equally true that the Scriptures themselves are inspired. The Holy Spirit has been “breathed into them” and resides within their words. When we approach the Scriptures prayerfully, aided by the same Spirit who dwells in them, reading Scripture becomes an experience filled and empowered by God’s Spirit, and we are changed.

However, it is hard to know where to begin to read the Bible, or to know how to fil it all together, how to interpret correctly some rather obscure passages, words and names. There are great Catholic Bible studies found in books, on audios and videos, and on the Internet which can help us, busy people, to learn a lot without a huge time commitment.

Sometimes the words of Scripture are encouraging. For instance, St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 12 tells us that no matter how insignificant we may feel, we each have an essential role to play as members of the body of Christ. But other times Scripture holds a mirror up to our face and we don’t like what we see. In Nehemiah 8, the people wept at the reading of the Word, because it made them realize their sin. The Word is truth, and sometim the truth is painful. But so is antiseptic on a wound. Scripture challenges us only to heal us and call us to growth. No pain, no gain.

Taken from 40 Days, 40 Ways: A New Look at Lent by Marcellino D’Ambrosio

Daily suggestion for Lent

Try to incorporate a work of mercy into your life.

The Seven Corporal Works of Mercy are to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, ransom captives, and bury the dead.

The Seven Spiritual Works of Mercy are to instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, admonish sinners, bear wrongs patiently, forgive others willingly, comfort the afflicted, and pray for the living and the dead.

Identify one and begin incorporating it into your life.

Mercy is simply love’s response to suffering. The Father of Mercy, to relieve our suffering, sent his Eternal Son to be made flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit. God the Son, by nature incapable of suffering, became vulnerable for us. He paid the debt for the human race at the cost of his life. This is what the Mass commemorates and makes present again. He who once gave himself in mercy to relieve our suffering continues to give himself to us, holding nothing back, in the sacrement of sacrements, the sacrement of divine mercy.

Mercy is essential to the life of every member of the Church until evil and suffering are no more. Mercy is for everyone; the call to holiness is absolutely universal (see Lumen Gentium, 5). Holiness means loves, and love means mercy. Everyone, without exception, is called to works of mercy.

There are different kinds of suffering. Not all suffering is a lack of bodily necessities, it is also the lack of the things of the spirit. This is why the works of mercy include the Seven Spiritual Works of Mercy.

Charity begins at home. If we open our eyes, there are people all around us who are lonely, sick, overworked, and troubled. They very much need our compassion and attention. This is where we must start. But charity can’t end at home. As Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount, our works of mercy must extend even to our enemies.

Mercy is not always convenient. There are times that works of mercy can be planned and fit in an orderly way into our schedule. But suffering and crisis are often unpredictable. And responding to them can often be inconvenient.

Charity is not the same as social work, it includes divine love. It is action that springs from the love of God that has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (see Romans 5:5) and must involve not just giving things but giving ourselves. We must see God’s image and likeness in the person that benefits from our charity, and love that person for God’s sake. Serving the poorest of the poor is serving Jesus himself. A work of mercy can and should be a deeply spiritual encounter.

Our goal in the work of mercy is always to restore dignity and honor, as such mercy is never condescending. “Charity” that belittles the recipient is never true mercy. It may relieve some bodily suffering, but it only causes a deeper suffering of alienation and humiliation. In fact, we need to humbly understand that we always receive as much or more as we give when we work to alleviate the suffering of the needy.

God is preeminently the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation (see 2 Corinthians 1:3). The way we can be recognized as his authentic offspring is by living a lifestyle of mercy.

Taken from 40 Days, 40 Ways: A New Look at Lent by Marcellino D’Ambrosio