Jesus Christ Has Won. Love Has Won.

Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.
O Lord, hear my prayer,
And let my cry come to you.
Hide not your face from me
In the day of my distress.
Incline your ear to me;
In the day when I call, answer me speedily.
—Psalm 102:2–3

The responsorial psalm for today is piercing through my soul. Due to the current COVID-19 crisis in the world, how many of us are crying out to the Lord in distress, praying for a miracle? Many of us. How many of us might be feeling anxiety, fear, and loneliness? Many of us. How many of us are clinging to faith in this time of uncertainty? I hope, too, that the answer is many of us.

The last time in which I celebrated communion, I did not know it would be “the last time.” I had accepted the Body of Christ and rejoiced in a beautiful Holy Hour. I remember feeling FULL, feeling HAPPY, feeling THANKFUL. I am holding on to those feelings of peace as I obediently wait for the church doors to be opened to the public again. But, as I wait, I know that the Church is ALIVE. I know that God the Father loves all His children. I know that Jesus Christ has won.

In today’s first reading, the people of Israel were complaining about the manna bread that God had given them to eat in the desert. They had been wandering in the desert for years, only eating of the miraculous manna bread that fell from heaven to sustain their lives. Yes, they were in the hot and lonely desert. Yes, they did not have a variety of food to choose from. But the people of Israel failed to see the good within the situation that they were in; they had much to be thankful for. First, they were freed from slavery in Egypt—they had been enslaved for 400 years and God broke their chains. Second, they had food and water—the manna bread does not naturally grow in the desert; it was bread from heaven that God provided for His children to eat so they’d be nourished and remain strong. And have you heard of this rolling rock that just followed them in the desert and provided water?

As humans sometimes we tend to only focus on the bad and choose to sit with it. We neglect to acknowledge all the good that God has already done in our lives. And at times, even in the midst of living in the good of life, we fail to give proper thanks to God. The people of Israel eventually realized their sin in complaining against God and asked for mercy. God then instructed Moses to make a serpent out of bronze and mount it on a pole; anyone who had previously been ill had only to look at the mounted serpent and would be healed.

How interesting that God chose the image of a serpent to be mounted on the pole. A serpent was the creature that manipulated Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, causing the fall of mankind. A serpent, representative of sin; that is what the people of Israel looked at to be healed—their sins hung on a wooden pole. We also need to look at our own sin. We need to acknowledge our wrongdoings, acknowledge when we complain against God and ask for mercy. We need to look at Jesus Christ crucified on the cross. We need to see the Son of God sacrificed for our salvation. Look at the cross, walk towards it, lay all that is weighing you down at the foot of the cross, and let Jesus heal you.

Throughout the bad that is present in the world, we must keep faith to that which is good. Our faith tells us that the battle is already won. Jesus Christ died and was nailed to a cross for the forgiveness of our sins. Love has won.

These are very difficult and unprecedented times. The COVID-19 virus has affected all of us. But have faith, the Church remains alive. Pray and invite God into your life for peace. The people of Israel asked for prayer—I encourage you to submit your prayer intentions HERE so that, as one body in Christ, we can pray for you as well.

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Image Credit: Moses showing the bronze serpent, mounted on a pole to the people of Israel [Public Domain].

Prayers and Spiritual Resources During Coronavirus

(Virtual) Community Prayer

Virtual Masses

Video Resources

Podcasts

Individual Prayers

  • Act of Spiritual Communion
    We all miss not being able to receive Holy Communion, but we know we can make an act of Spiritual Communion by which we express our strong desire to receive Jesus in the sacrament of the Eucharist. The practice of praying Spiritual Communion has been embraced by many saints throughout history and has been practiced by many faithful around the world where freedom of religion has been banned:
    My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.
  • Litany of Trust (written by Sister Faustina Maria Pia, SV)
  • Prayer of Surrender
    Given to me by one of the Sisters of Life:
    Loving Father, I surrender to you today with all my heart and soul. Please come into my heart in a deeper way. I say “Yes” to you today. I open all the secret places of my heart to you and say, “Come on in.” Jesus, you are the Lord of my whole life. I believe in you and receive you as my Lord and Savior. I hold nothing back. Holy Spirit, bring me to a deeper conversion to the person of Jesus Christ. I surrender all to you: my health, my family, my resources, occupation, skills, relationships, time management, successes, and failures. I release it and let it go. I surrender my understanding of how things ought to be, my choice and my will. I surrender to you the promises I have kept and the promises I have failed to keep. I surrender my weaknesses and strengths to you. I surrender my emotions, my fears, my insecurities, my sexuality. I especially surrender ________, ________, ________. (Continue here to surrender other areas as the Holy Spirit reveals them to you.) Lord, I surrender my entire life to you, the past, the present, and the future. In sickness and in health, in life and in death, I belong to you.
    Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my intellect, and my will. You have given me all that I have and I return it all now to you. Dispose of me according to your will. Give me only your love and your grace, for with this I am rich enough and have no more to ask. Amen.
  • Lockdown
    A poem by Brother Richard Hendrick, a Capuchin Franciscan in Ireland, reflecting on the coronavirus crisis with hope.
  • Meditations for the Sorrowful Mysteries for the Ending of the COVID-19 Pandemic
    I was able to attend vigil Mass at my parish this past Saturday evening, right before the diocese canceled all public Masses. They passed out these pamphlets with meditations for the Sorrowful Mysteries that are very appropriate for these times:

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Remember Your Mercies, O Lord

The chaos in which we find our world these past few weeks is difficult to ignore: almost every state in our country declaring a “state of emergency,” grocery stores unable to keep paper products in stock, and, perhaps the most frightening of all, the suspension of Masses and other church services until further notice. With all this “mass” hysteria taking over our lives, it is almost impossible not to give in to it and let it cripple our spirits. It is so easy to allow the loud voices of the media to dictate the way we think. As the situation continues, the natural instinct is to let selfish tendencies take over. How do we combat this drive to focus on our own needs above those of others when the sanctuary of our Church and of Sunday’s holy rest has been denied to us?

The Lord is so subtle in His helpful reminders. It could be seen as an actual blessing that this chaos is happening during Lent since it is in this penitential season that we are called to fast and deprive ourselves. In addition, as we fast we are called to replace that from which we are fasting with practices that bring us closer to Jesus Christ. In the Gospel today, Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother and Jesus responds with the well-known answer: “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants” (Matthew 18: 22-23). Perhaps this is the time to heed God’s call to truly put our neighbors before ourselves. In the crazed setting of the depleted grocery store, take your time and allow others to go ahead of you as you shop, trusting the Lord will provide you with what you need. The Lord already has mercy on us—we should remember His mercy, and return His mercy to others. We are in a time where what we need most cannot be found in the bare essentials supermarkets stock, but in the true essentials of God’s love and His mercy.

“And now we follow you with our whole heart, we fear you and we pray to you. Do not let us be put to shame, but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy. Deliver us by your wonders, and bring glory to your name, O Lord.”
—Daniel 34–43

During this period of great uncertainty and unknown, we must remain devoted to the word of God and not fall away from His teachings. Fear has a powerful way of distracting us, but we must place our faith in Jesus and His promises for us, that He will always be with us.

The Miracle of the 54-Day Novena

By Jacqueline Casquero

I haven’t shared this with many people, but I’m willing to share this as a testimony of the miracle that happened to my family about two to three years ago.

It was the year 2017. My sister, Cathy, shared with the family about her pregnancy. Our family was full of joy. Cathy became sick, uncomfortable, and at the same time nervous. She’d had a miscarriage about a year earlier. She was afraid that she would be having a miscarriage again. I did all I could to reassure her that it wouldn’t happen again. We would go to different Catholic meetings and Masses, receive the sacraments, listen to Christian songs, and meditate on Scripture.

Aside from this, at the end of 2017 both of my parents announced that they had tumors. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I felt completely sad and lonely. I didn’t share it with anybody, but I talked and prayed to Jesus and Mother Mary.

One day, a friend of mine told me about the 54-Day Rosary Novena and how it worked miracles. I desperately needed one. I looked up the history behind this special, long novena to see what it was about. I’d never heard of it before nor the story behind it.

I decided to pray and do it. There were days that I was sick or tired or emotional, as well as days that I skipped, but I persevered. I also had a prayer partner, my mother.

In the middle of 2018, Cathy gave birth to Amada (named after one of the Sisters of Life). My parents’ surgeries for the removal of their tumors was a success.

Today, my mother and I are doing the 54-day novena again during this time of Lent. We are praying for those that have been infected with coronavirus for their healing and a cure.

Click here to learn more about the 54-Day Rosary Novena.

A Letter from Jackie Ostick

Hi My Dear Frassati Community,

I am sitting here in my apartment, about to do my morning prayers and at a loss because I can’t go to Mass. How is this possible? It always seemed like Mass was always there. Daily Mass. Sunday Mass. Bible study. Fellowship. And now? Where do we go?

This week has made me reflect on my first two months here in NYC. I moved here in November of 2008 to be an actor. There I was, someone who had to make a living and still have time to audition, and then be able to leave so I could go do said show that I would hopefully book. My anxiety creeped up and I was so overwhelmed. Luckily, I lived in Astoria at the time and there was a Catholic church right down the street from me. I went to daily Mass every day and suddenly I understood what I had heard all those years in Catholic school. God really does love me. He DOES have a plan. All I can do is listen to His plan in my heart and take the next right steps. This was a spiritual awakening that deepened my faith. It almost felt like another Confirmation for me. I was claiming my faith as my own, because I NEEDED it. My anxiety lessened and I have been able to take major strides in my career. All because I trusted in my Lord and listened.

I share this story because my faith is what is helping me through this crisis. It’s honestly a miracle that I’m not wrapped in plastic right now. Am I scared? FOR SURE! Am I overwhelmed? YOU BET. However, I am finding solace in my Lord. I’m talking to Him. Asking him to help me do the next right thing and to protect myself and everyone I love. That’s all I can do….because we know that God definitely can do more.

Thank you all for the time to share.

Gratefully,
Jackie Ostick

We Are All Tenants in This Life

A few weeks ago, I was teaching a group of 7th graders about ownership. We talked about land and property: the homes they lived in, the clothing they wore, the cellphones they had. At the beginning of the discussion they had given me a list of a few items they each owned. As the conversation progressed they realized that none of the property they used was actually their own. It all belonged to their parents, but as their children, they are able to enjoy these possessions. 

In the book of Genesis, God creates everything into existence. He made light, the earth, the sky, vegetation, animals, and mankind. He made everything and everything was good. As God is the creator of all things, so, rightfully, He is the owner of all things. Everything belongs to God, and we have been gifted the opportunity to be His stewards, to use all of what He has created and bear fruit.

Today’s Gospel talks about ownership and stewardship. Jesus is telling the chief priests and elders of the people the parable of the tenants. A landowner planted a vineyard and leased it to tenants. When the landowner sent servants and even his own son to collect the produce from his land, the tenants killed them. Jesus asked, “What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?” 

We are all tenants in this life. Everything that we have was given to us by God. Today’s society might not agree, and you may hear echoes of “this is my land,” “my body,” “I worked for this.” The truth is that the land we occupy was created by God, your body was created by God and in His image, and all your possessions have been delivered into your hands by God. It is right that we thank Him. Through His divine plan, we have been given different gifts and we must use those gifts for good: to bear fruit. If you find yourself in a position of power, use your platform for the common good. If you find that you’ve been granted material wealth, use it wisely and in consideration of those in need. If you’re a part of a ministry/group/organization in which they look towards you for leadership, be prudent in how you lead that you may lead others to the Kingdom of heaven.

As everything in our lives is a gift, it is also leased out to us—waiting for the rightful owner to come back and obtain the produce that was cultivated. Jesus warns us about being a tenant with empty hands: “the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.” Whatever gift (big or small) you’ve been given from God, He wants you to use it and fully enjoy it, while at the same time producing fruits—that is, building up the Kingdom and bringing people closer to God.

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Image Credit: Parable of The Tenants by Jan Luyken [Public Domain].

A New Heart and A New Spirit

“Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, says the LORD, and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit” -Ezekiel 18:31

Here we are, a little more than a week into Lent. How are you feeling about your Lent thusfar? You may be feeling good in your Lenten commitments, having successfully passed on any chocolate or being off of social media. Maybe you have created time each day for intentional prayer. Or maybe you are feeling discouraged… maybe you haven’t kept up on Lenten commitments or you still haven’t quite decided what to “do” for Lent. Firstly, wherever you are right now, God sees and loves you. He is pleased with anything you have offered this Lent and He desires to draw your heart closer to His. Wherever you are, today’s Gospel verse Ezekiel 18:31 (see above), reminds us what lies at the heart of this season — a renewal of our hearts and spirits.

The Lord promises us a new heart and a new spirit when we seek His forgiveness. “Repent” is the first word of John the Baptist’s Gospel proclamation, and it’s always our first step in uniting to the Lord. No matter how many times we sin, whether it be a stumble or a big fall, the Lord receives us back when we repent and ask His forgiveness. In its original Greek, the word translated as repent is metanoia, which means to turn around and literally change direction. To repent is to turn ourselves around, away from our sin, to change direction and face Christ. He is already facing us, loving us even in the midst of our failings, but He asks us to turn away from those failings and the hurt they cause ourselves and others. He wants to transform us, to renew our hearts and spirits.

Lent is the liturgical time for us to dwell on this reality of the Gospel. I encourage you to read through today’s readings or listen closely to them if you are attending Mass. They guide us beautifully through a Lenten reflection far superior to anything I could write. Through these Sacred Scriptures, God speaks to us of His desire to forgive us and His desire for us to forgive others. Forgiveness brings freedom. God invites us into this freedom at every moment. Metanoia is the first step… repenting, changing direction from the darkness of our sin to the light of Christ. Through this action we take toward Him, God will give us a new heart and a new spirit. Our Lenten penances or practices are ways for us to live out our repentance. They are sacrifices and commitments that help foster in us a truly penitent spirit. And this contrite spirit is what God is seeking, for it leads us to Him, the One who is able to transform and renew our hearts and spirits by His all-consuming Love.

Lord, show each of us what we need to sacrifice or commit to this Lent to truly grow closer to you. You know each of us in our uniqueness and you know what we need. Guide us so that we may all emerge from the penitent spirit of Lent with a truly renewed heart and spirit this Easter. We all these things in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirt, Amen.