Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan
and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days,
to be tempted by the devil.
He ate nothing during those days,
and when they were over he was hungry.
The devil said to him,

“If you are the Son of God,
command this stone to become bread.”
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Sorrowful Mysteries

If you ever pray the Rosary, and like me you have difficulty meditating on the mysteries without a visual image to focus on, here are some examples you might consider for the Sorrowful Mysteries. Praying the beads as you ponder the events of the crucifixion is recommended by Pope Francis as a spiritual practice during Lent. I’m including these paintings with relevant scripture but without commentary so that your focus is the image itself, rather than the written word. The captions provide basic information about the paintings. For instructions on how to pray the Rosary, see here. Remember you can click on each image for a larger version, and some can be enlarged further with another click if a plus sign appears as your cursor. Continue reading

The Hands of the Father

As I’ve written on the About page, The Return of the Prodigal Son, a book by Henri Nouwen in which he writes his profound extended meditation on the painting of that name by Rembrandt, was the inspiration for the creation of this blog. So imagine my excitement and trepidation when I saw that this Saturday’s Gospel reading is that very parable! Excitement because, obviously, I love both the painting and the parable. Trepidation because nothing I could possibly write would come near to the eloquence and profundity of Nouwen’s words. So my solution is simple: I’ll include the words of Henri Nouwen that speak so deeply to my own heart. I hope they’ll speak to yours as well, as they have to millions of others. First things first though. Here is the scriptural passage that is the basis for the painting, from the Gospel of Luke: Continue reading

Ash Wednesday

Mosaic from Pompeii
30 B.C. — 14 A.D.
National Archaeological Museum, Naples.

I have a deep appreciation for the significance of Ash Wednesday. As the celebrant marks my forehead with the sign of the cross, he intones, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return,” reminding me of my mortality. These are the same words said by God to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:19 as part of their punishment for disobeying Him. Our disobedience blocks us from the eternal life that God intends for us. What God desires from us is repentance and transformation to heal our relationship with Him. Ash Wednesday dates from at least the eighth century and is the beginning of Lent, a time of fasting, prayer, and good works that are meant to prepare us for the glory of the Easter resurrection. Continue reading