First Sunday of Lent Weekend of February 25 & 26

In today’s Gospel reading we listen to the confrontation
between Jesus and the devil, who thought he might tempt
Jesus to forget who he was and commit a grievous sin
when he was most vulnerable. Jesus had just spent 40 days
and nights out in the desert, alone, away from civilization.
He was hungry, thirsty, and tired. If there ever was a time
to tempt Jesus, that was it. Temptations to sin come at us
every day, from many directions and in many different
forms. When the temptation to sin tries to overcome us,
how do we react? Do we consciously remind ourselves
that we are followers of Christ? Is there a time this week
when you have needed to confront a temptation to sin?
What lessons did you take away from the experience?

Stewardship and the Family

In his Letter to Families, Saint John Paul II referred to the family as the
“domestic Church.” It is a phrase the Second Vatican Council brought forth
from the writings of the early Church fathers. It was a phrase the pope used
often, and describes family life as the center of Catholic spirituality and faith.
Those of us who live in a modern family, though, can attest to the incredible
challenges of creating a family life that fully lives up to that image of
“domestic Church.”.

Busy schedules can make family members feel as though they live as ships
passing in the night. Job demands, class schedules, school events, church
groups, business trips, commute times, sports – the list goes on. Experts tell us
the family dinner, a nightly event years ago, is an increasingly rare occurrence,
and even when families are together under one roof, computers, televisions,
and every imaginable screen demanding their attention keep them isolated
from each other in the same house, even the same room.

What can we do to make sacred the “domestic Church” within our homes?
What can we do to exercise better stewardship of our families? How about
starting with the family meal? Schedule a big breakfast or brunch on Sunday
after Mass. The table celebration could include everyone’s favorite food.
Make it a family event from beginning through clean-up. Keep a large, visible
calendar on which everyone’s schedule is noted, so that a family dinner can be planned and prioritized. That meal
should be a social occasion, not the
time to check if Bobby passed his
science test or scold Suzy because
she wouldn’t get out of bed that
morning. It is a time for pleasant
conversation, no electronic devices
permitted. And don’t worry if it’s not
roast beef – pizza out of a box and a
salad can be just as fun.

Then, create a plan to work on
family prayer time. Besides going
to Sunday Mass together, how
about a time in the evening when
everyone stops what they’re doing
and gathers for just a few moments
before bedtime for prayer? Perhaps
use commute times – the trip to the
soccer field or the morning drive to
school – to share a brief and heartfelt
prayer with your children. Do your
children see you pray with Scripture?
Let children see you make prayer
a priority. John Paul II stressed the
importance of prayer as a family.
“Prayer makes the Son of God present
among us,” he wrote.

What else might you do to
elevate the sacredness of your own
domestic Church? Do your children
see you honor special time with your
spouse? Do you make quality time
with each child individually? Do you
listen to them when they speak, or are
you checking your cell phone texts
as they talk? Communicate the idea
that family comes first and they will
catch on. As a steward, prioritize your
own sense of family stewardship. If
our children grow up with the idea
that “church” is indelibly linked to
“family,” their faith will grow stronger.

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time Weekend of February 18 & 19

In another passage from his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus
continues to turn his disciples’ way of thinking upsidedown. One of the lessons for the Christian steward in
today’s Gospel is that if we have a chance to help someone
in need, we should be generous and give more than is
expected of us. Jesus went “the extra mile” for us. Can we
be more like Jesus and “go the extra mile” for others?

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time Weekend of February 11 &12

In today’s Gospel, part of his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus
does not speak of replacing the law of the Old Testament.
He goes beyond it. He obliges his followers to work at
being holier than even the strictest of Pharisees. But the
work is not accomplished by following a religious “law”, it
requires growing in love for other human beings. Followers
of Jesus know they are required to be good stewards of
others. In what way will you exercise good stewardship
over other people this week?

Stewardship Saint of the Month: Saint Maroun

Saint Maroun, Father of the Maronite Catholic community.
The Maronite Catholic Church, an Eastern Rite Catholic community,
celebrates the feast of Saint Maroun on February 9. Saint Maroun is
considered the father of the Maronite Catholic community, which professes
the same apostolic faith, celebrates the same sacraments and is united with
the chief shepherd of the Church, the pope, as are all Roman Catholics
throughout the world.

Based in part on the writings of Saint John Chrysostom (feast, Sept. 13),
Saint Maroun’s life is dated at approximately 350-410. Saints Maroun and
John Chrysostom are believed to have studied together in the great Christian
learning center at Antioch, which at the time was the third largest city in the
Roman Empire.

Unlike Saint John Chrysostom, who became Archbishop of
Constantinople, Saint Maroun embraced a life of quiet, prayerful solitude
in the mountains of Syria. He was known for his simplicity and his
extraordinary desire to discover God’s presence in all things. He was also
known for his evangelization efforts and his extensive healing ministry. He
shared his deep commitment to Christ with everyone he encountered.
Saint Maroun’s missionary work came to fruition when he converted an
entire pagan community living in the mountains of Syria to Christianity. This
was the beginning of mass conversions to Christianity in Syria. Saint Maroun
attracted a multitude of followers and drew attention throughout the empire.
His influence on the Syrian Christians was so great they took their name after
him, “Maronites.” In time, the Maronite movement spread the Christian faith
to Lebanon where its influence was even more profound.

Saint Maroun is the patron saint of Lebanon, which celebrates his
feast day as a national civic holiday for Christians and Muslims alike. Pope
Benedict XVI established the granting of a plenary indulgence to anyone who
visits a Maronite church on February 9th.

World Marriage Week

A sage once wrote that a good marriage is like a fire around which others come
to warm themselves. So, as we celebrate World Marriage Day on February 12,
we realize that no matter our station in life – married, single or religious – we
have benefited from this sacred covenant relationship whether through the
example of our parents, grandparents, and other role models, or through our
own stewardship of the marriage covenant.

For the Catholic steward, marriage goes far beyond the legal or societal
agreement that our culture might define. For the Catholic steward, marriage
is a sacrament that fosters a sacred covenant; establishing family and
nurturing the domestic church which we understand is fundamental to our
spiritual development.

Marriage brings us countless blessings, but is met with many obstacles.
Busy schedules, the challenges of parenthood, the strains of finances,
mortgages, issues of health and aging – all of these test the bonds of even the
finest unions.

World Marriage Day, observed on the second Sunday of each February,
is sponsored by Worldwide Marriage Encounter, associated with Catholic
Marriage Encounter. Many Catholics have participated in a Marriage Encounter
weekend, but no matter how we have endeavored to grow in and to support
our marriages, or the marriages of those close to us, we know that marriage
does take effort, continuing commitment, deep prayer, great communication, a
good sense of humor and faithful love.

This year, the observances of National Marriage Week, February 7 to 14,
and World Marriage Day, are an opportunity to focus on building a culture
of life and love that begins with supporting and promoting marriage and the

Many parishes celebrate World Marriage Day by the renewal of vows, the
celebration of special anniversaries, or even candlelit dinners in the parish hall.
Take time this February to celebrate marriage, whether by setting aside a special
time to devote to your own spouse, or by honoring the marriages that have
warmed you and nurtured you throughout your life.