From February 26, 2020 to April 9, 2020 we will enter into a special time of the liturgical year known as Lent. In other words, from Ash Wednesday to the day before Easter Sunday, we will be invited to devote ourselves to seek the Lord in prayer (especially by reading Scriptures), service (especially through almsgiving), and sacrifice (especially fasting).
Tuesday, Feb. 25 — Lenten Reflection: Lent at UIW
Lent at UIW – An Introduction
From February 26 to April 9, we will enter into a special time of the liturgical year known as Lent. In other words, from Ash Wednesday to the day before Easter Sunday, we will be invited to devote ourselves to seek the Lord in prayer (especially by reading Scriptures), service (especially through almsgiving), and sacrifice (especially fasting).
In the past, the office of Mission and Ministry has endeavored to mark this Holy Season with various activities. This year I have invited high-level administration, faculty and staff, and students to help us link our Catholic identity and the celebration of this Holy Season with our own identity as the University of the Incarnate Word.
For that reason, our President, our Provost, and those deans who responded to my invitation will share with us their thoughts and reflections based on the Lenten Sunday Gospels on the University’s website and in The Word Today. As leaders of our institution and as role models, they will invite us to see how the Word transforms our world, both here at UIW and beyond.
At the same time, some of our faculty and staff will lead us in short reflections every Lenten Friday at the end of Mass as we are sent forth. In a two- to three-minute format, they will inspire us, challenge us, and show us how the Word is alive and acting in their own areas of influence and how the Word can act in ours.
Finally, some of our faculty and students will invite us to learn how their specific religious traditions understand and promote peace and reconciliation through short, written reflections, which will be published in The Word Today. The overall purpose of these activities will be to promote inclusion, to engage in ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue, and to refine and deepen our understanding and commitment of our Catholic tradition to further peace and reconciliation.
It is my sincere hope and prayer that these Lenten exercises allow our entire university community to grow in knowledge and in wisdom with regards to our Catholic identity and the ways in which we can make the Word change our entire world.
For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us:
Sr. Walter Maher, CCVI
Office of Mission and Ministry
Wednesday, Feb. 26 — Lenten Reflection: Ash Wednesday
Ash Wednesday — Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 Matthew 6:1
By Dr. Darlene Carbajal
- “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.”
- 2: “When you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your almsgiving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”
- 16: “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”
The Lenten season is a time to deepen our relationship with Christ. Although often associated with the widespread practice of giving something up, this contradicts the teaching of Christ and can minimize the focus to inwardly reflect on our daily relationship with God. Today’s Gospel reminds us that Lent is an invitation to re-center on love and acceptance, thus “learning Christ”. Rather than be self-concerned with individual trials, the Gospel encourages us to come to God with an open heart, and to understand His concern for us.
As we enter this season of Lent as members of the University of the Incarnate Word, we are encouraged to connect our hearts and minds to an inclusive education that is centered on compassion and mutual understanding. During this season of Lent, we establish the importance of acceptance and gratitude that transfers into the classroom. Let us pray to understand the teachings of Christ and allow Him to accompany us in life. Let us form habits that transcend our hearts and minds to a way of life that seeks to improve the lives of other people.
Teach me, my Lord to be sweet and gentle.
In all the events of life—in the disappointments, in the thoughtlessness of others, in the insecurity of those I trusted, in the unfaithfulness of those on whom I relied
Let me put myself aside, to think of the happiness of others, to hide my little pains and heartaches, so that I may be the only one to suffer from them.
Teach me to profit by the suffering that comes across my path.
Let me so use it that it may mellow me, not harden nor embitter me; that it may make me patient, not irritable, that it may make me broad in my forgiveness, not narrow, haughty and overbearing.
May no one be less good for having come within my influence. No one less pure, less true, less kind, less noble for having been a fellow-traveler in our journey toward ETERNAL LIFE.
As I go my rounds from one distraction to another, let me whisper from time to time, a word of love to Thee. May my life be lived in the supernatural, full of power for good, and strong in its purpose of sanctity.
Friday, Feb. 28 — Lenten Reflection: Metanoia
Metanoia, Changing Who We Are – How do We Begin?
“Man shall not live by bread alone….” This is a phrase that we hear every time the Gospel story of Jesus’s temptation in the desert is read, but it meant something different to me with this rehearing of it. After fasting for forty days and forty nights, Jesus was hungry. It would be difficult to imagine thinking about anything other than food at that time. Yet when he was tempted with turning the rocks into bread, he was able to refocus and realize that this immediate answer to his body’s hunger was not the right thing to do.
In reading the passage this time it reminded me that as Christ’s hunger must have been an overwhelming consideration for him, we sometimes get fixated on things in our life that we cannot look beyond. However, to move forward we must put those things into perspective as Jesus did.
There is a need to step back from the day-to-day things that can consume all our attention and adjust our view of that around us. What we perceive as the best way in the short term may not be the way we should proceed. A phrase attributed to many sources says, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you treat every problem as a nail.” When we are too close to something it is possible to not be able to tell where it fits into the whole.
Lent is a time of year that reminds us to do just that — to step back and reorient ourselves. To take in our surroundings and determine exactly where we are and if we are headed in the right direction.
There is no better place to gain that perspective than on a university campus. The university has a rich and diverse atmosphere. We have students, faculty, and staff that come from many backgrounds for many reasons to create a vibrant place to live. By interacting with each other and learning from all those different perspectives we gain a larger picture of where we are in the world and how we should move forward. Taking the time to contemplate those perspectives helps us grow.
Reflection on the Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent
Dr. Timothy Wingert
Dean, Rosenberg School of Optometry
Friday, Mar. 6 — Lenten Reflection: The Transfiguration
The story of the Transfiguration in Matthew’s Gospel presents Jesus enveloped in a radiant light. Moses and the prophet Elijah appear at his sides and the voice of God coming from within the bright cloud commands all to "listen to him." The apostles with Jesus were naturally terrified by the miracle they were witnessing – a scene that would likely have brought anyone to their knees. Although this scene is striking in many different ways and levels, God's voice and Jesus' message after the event is over offer two important messages, messages we find elsewhere in the Gospels.
The first message comes from the Father's voice and is addressed to the disciples and to us: “Listen to him!” This command finds echo in the Blessed Mother’s urging to the servants at the wedding of Cana. "Do whatever he tells you," she said, and a first miracle occurred. Jesus turned water into wine and in doing so, he prefigured the Eucharist and blessed all marriages, inviting us all to enjoy the feast of life and of His love. It is interesting to me that the Father's command during the Transfiguration is so similar to the message Jesus’ Mother gave to the servants, namely, to listen to Jesus and to do what he tells us to do.
The second message comes from the first words uttered to the disciples by Jesus following the Transfiguration event. “Do not be afraid” is a phrase Jesus often repeats throughout the Gospels--and is an echo that resounds throughout the Bible. This phrase reminds us, time and again, that we are to love and serve with courage, trusting in the Lord. How many times in our lives are we afraid? Our list of fears could be long: failure, public speaking, flying, people’s opinions, profound losses, disease, and death itself—to mention just a few. Yet it is clear that Jesus wants us to live our lives without worry, concern, fear or anxiety; he asks us to live our lives to their fullest, with certainty, confidence, and joy. Yes, Christ offers us His peace, and his gentle command that we “be not afraid” resonates at our cores.
This Lent, as I reflect on my role as President, I realize I am to do the same. I am to trust in Jesus, do what he has told me to do, and follow His gentle command, as well as those of God the Father and our Blessed Mother. I am reminded whenever I do that, things tend to go well. I also realize that we, members of the University of the Incarnate Word, should live our personal and professional lives knowing that God loves us and trusting He will see us through. So, my invitation to all of us this Lent is “listen to him” and “do not be afraid.” If we do this, things will go according to God’s magnificent plan for each of us, and we will be able to work and live in peace.
Praised be the Incarnate Word!
Dr. Thomas M. Evans, President
Friday, Mar. 13 — Lenten Reflection: Am I the person at the well?
Is He the Messiah? Am I the person at the well?
This is the question asked by the Samaritan woman after leaving her jar beside the well and running back to the village. Like me, she was an ordinary person. She was going about her day and accomplishing necessary tasks (like drawing water from the well). Unaware that she was in the presence of the only begotten Son, she spoke to Him as one living in the natural world, inquiring, “How will you draw this living water without rope or bucket?” Yet, He persisted in pursuing her supernaturally, offering “My water brings eternal life.”
In awe of Him, she ran back to the village and urged others to see a man who could tell her all she had done. Transfixed on His ability to know her past, she might easily have missed what He offered for her future. Bewildered and perhaps overwhelmed, she runs away to her village and beckons that others come and see this man. She even ponders, “Could he possibly be the Messiah?” And because of her many Samaritans from the village came out to see, listen, and, ultimately, believe in Jesus.
John’s account of Jesus and the Samaritan woman is beautiful and gripping. It is beautiful for many reasons. Jesus reveals Himself to be the Messiah. He proves to be radically inclusive, making way to salvation for all who believe. And as we read, many Samaritans came to know and believe Jesus because of the woman at the well. We know that she and her village were moved by Him. His presence in their village was alive and real. They discovered a food they previously knew nothing about.
It is also a beautifully gripping story because her question raises another question. Could I possibly be the woman at the well? As I reflect on this story of an imperfect human who was focused on meeting her day-to-day needs, I am convinced that, of course, I am her. Or, at least, I recognize that her sins are no greater than mine and that my existence is no greater than hers. We are both imperfect humans in need of living water.
I have the benefit of growing up with her story. I have imagined what if it had been me at the well and how I might hope to have responded had I met the Messiah that day. For those growing up with scripture, it can be a bit like watching a movie you’ve seen plenty of times before. At times, I almost plead with the characters, as if it might redirect the outcome. I beg the woman at the well to stay with Him a bit longer. I find myself encouraging her, “Yes, you are right! IT IS THE MESSIAH! Kiss HIS feet! Do not leave His presence! His living water gives eternal life and to live in His presence on this earth is the only hope of an abundant life. Forget your past, focus less on ordinary tasks and more on what is eternal, and follow HIM wherever HE leads.”
But just then, as I hear myself pleading with her, I discover that I am looking down into the well, seeing my own reflection, and delivering the message to myself: Jesus is the Messiah. He gives living water. Follow Him wherever He leads.
Dr. Trey Guinn
Friday, Mar. 20 — Lenten Reflection: Following Jesus in good and bad times
Following Jesus in Good and Bad TimesBy Caroline Goulet
A Reflection on John 9:1-41 - The Blind Man
As a healthcare professional, when asked to pick a gospel to reflect on during Lent, I was drawn to the Healing of the Blind Man story (Jn 9:1-41). This gospel not only refers to a miracle but is a true reflection of the healing work of the mind, heart and hands in action as well as of empowerment, trust and self-realization. Jesus, The Incarnate Word, deliberately made a concoction of spittle and mud (mind) to apply (hands) on the eyes of a man born blind and looked upon as a sinner for his disability (heart) and instructed him to go wash in the “Pool of Siloam” (empowerment). The blind man washed his eyes (trust) and then could see (self-realization).
We know that Jesus could have simply proclaimed the man healed as he had previously done, but, in this story, He did not. He restored the blind man’s sight while demonstrating the healing forces of the mind, heart, and hands at work in synchrony. Highlighted as well are the power of trust and self-realization; the blind man may have chosen not to follow his instructions to go wash but he went, and he regained the ability to see. After having his sight restored, even though his story was challenged by the Pharisees, the man chose to believe that He was the Son of God and to worship him.
“For judgement I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind. If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”
In this time of global healthcare crisis and financial uncertainty, it is easy to get lost in the frenzy all around us or be blinded by fear and not see the LIGHT at the end of the tunnel. We have to trust that God’s will is carried out through the multitudes of healthcare professionals around the world working tirelessly to care for patients affected by the virus, using their mind, heart, and hands to provide the best care possible and save lives. Scientists are working around the clock to develop a cure and a vaccine.
Companies around the globe are developing more test kits, respirators, protective gear. Faculty members are getting ready to teach online, adapting course content, modifying assessment, creating videos to ensure that students will remain on course with their studies. Whole communities have been asked to limit their external activities and stay home to protect themselves and those most vulnerable. And these are only a few examples of those carrying out God’s will every day. “Lord, I believe” said the man when Jesus asked him “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
"I can see, and that is why I can be happy, in what you call the dark, but which to me is golden. I can see a God-made world, not a manmade world.”
I say “Lord, I believe” to help me get through each day, and “Lord, I believe” in gratitude at night. Jesus, you are the LIGHT that I long for and I will continue to follow You in good times and bad.
Praised be The Incarnate Word.
Friday, Mar. 27 — Lenten Reflection: Jesus taught us compassion
Jesus Taught Us Compassion
Lazarus’s Resurrection, John 11:1-45
In reading the story of Lazarus I am reminded of the premature death of my brother, Albert, to cancer two years ago. I, too, like Martha and Mary, Lazarus’s sisters, wanted Jesus to save him and in the most essential way my brother Albert was saved. Before he died, he acknowledged that the Lord was his Savior and God. In verse 25-26 Jesus tells Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life: whoever believes in me, though he should die, will come to life; and whoever is alive and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Jesus is asking each one of us as the faithful to believe in His resurrection. As a member of the University of the Incarnate Word community I try to demonstrate through my interactions with students, staff, faculty, and families how I encounter the glory of God. We are God’s disciples and the most important manifestations of His glory are how we treat one another. Jesus cried with Martha and Mary to teach us to console each other in times of loss and sorrow.
I pray during this Lenten season that we as the Incarnate Word community embrace the examples of Jesus. We show this not only by caring for one another but accompanying each other in our times of difficulty to create a more compassionate University environment.
Dr. Barbara Aranda-Naranjo