Lenten Reflections

RYM Daily Lenten Moment

Day 13 : 'Suffering'

Suffering it seems is everywhere!

Just turn on the TV and we see the suffering that truly exists in the world (e.g. the plight of refugees, those who are hungry).

Just walk around our towns, cities and communities and we see those who suffer greatly (e.g. the homeless, the addicted, the lonely).

Just visit a hospital or hospice to see those who are suffering from illness and pain.

Just look to our families/ friends and we hear stories of great heartache and trauma.

Just look to ourselves and acknowledge the suffering we experience and carry in our own hearts and lives.

We all experience suffering. No one is immune!

In today's reading St Peter (5:1-4) tells us that he is a witness to the sufferings of Christ.

For you see Jesus suffered - for each one of us. He suffered for you and me. He loved us so much that He endured His Passion and Death for us, bearing the pain of all our sinfulness on the Cross - to save us!

Jesus knows our pain and suffering all too well - every day He helps us to carry our cross - if we let Him.

Let us 'rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance' (Romans 5:3)

So we pray today that the suffering we experience in this life is tempered by our great hope and faith that one day Christ will comes to us in all His glory!

'What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later' (Romans 8:18)

Paul Murphy

Coordinator of Redemptorist Youth Ministry

RYM Daily Lenten Moment

Day 12 : 'Mountain Top Experience'

On 11th March next year - 'Flame 2017' - the largest Catholic Youth Event in the UK will be held at the SSE Wembley Arena in London.

Over 10,000 young people will gather from all over the country to share their faith and come together for a day of prayer, friendship, praise and worship.

This will be the third 'Flame' - and for those who have been privileged to attend the previous events, it is truly a special joyous day.

It's a day when the young church celebrates our faith in Christ, with a joy that is contagious. Gathering together in such large numbers is truly powerful and we leave feeling re-energised in our faith.

It is truly a 'mountain-top experience!'

In today's Gospel of the Transfiguration we hear of Peter, John and James' very own 'mountain-top experience' ; where they see the transfigured Jesus radiating like a star.

They want Jesus to stay with them for as long as possible and so are prepared to make tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. They didn't want their time with the Lord to end!

Just like Peter, John and James, we too never want these 'special extraordinary experiences' of faith to end. We want to keep the feelings alive and never let the 'flame' of our joy to be extinguished.

However we all must come back down the mountain-side. We need to return to the reality of our daily lives.

So we ask Jesus today to be close to us at all times, but especially in our everyday experiences of faith.

May our 'mountain top moments' strengthen us, inspire us and encourage us to keep the 'flame' of our faith alive each and every day!

Paul Murphy

Coordinator of Redemptorist Youth Ministry

RYM Daily Lenten Moment

Day 11 : 'Rest & Recharge'

The weekend is here again!

It's that time of the week when many of us can relax a little ; unwind from the stresses and strains of our working week ; and spend time with friends and loved ones.

The alarm clock may be set that little bit later; the early morning commute replaced by a more leisurely start to the day; and perhaps we can even take time to digest breakfast!

This is the theory; but is it really the practice?

Life nowadays seems constantly hectic and fast-paced - 7 days a week. It never seems to slow down!

Increasingly we are a culture that feels compelled to fill our diaries with a never-ending, jam-packed set of social engagements and activities - which leave us little time to properly rest and recharge our batteries!

But rest - we must! Time out - we need! (spoken in a Yoda Jedi Master-like way!)

As Catholics though we have our very own Master - who calls us to keep the Sabbath as a holy day of rest and worship!

He recognises our need to rest, recharge and refresh - spiritually and physically - to take time out from work and daily chores!

So tomorrow - the Second Sunday of Lent - perhaps let us consider how we can set aside more time to simply rest in the Lord's presence!

'Come to me all you who labour and are over-burdened and I will give you rest' (Matthew 11:28)

Paul Murphy

Coordinator of Redemptorist Youth Ministry

RYM Daily Lenten Moment

Day 10 : 'Gathering for Christ'

'For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in their midst' (Matthew 18:20).

We all love a good gathering - don't we?

We all love to come together with family and friends - to celebrate a birthday, wedding or special occasion or simply to share a coffee or meal.

For you see 'gathering' together is important. God created us for one other - to love one another.

John Donne the English poet reminded us that 'No man is an island'.

And so it is with our faith! We need one another to build up God's Kingdom!

Many think of their faith as something personal and private - but we are called to go further ; to gather labourers for the harvest!

At Mass we are called to 'Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord' - to spread the Good News - not to keep our faith in Christ to ourselves.

So we must respond to our 'baptismal call' to 'evangelise' ; to 'Go and make disciples of all nations' (Matthew 28:19)

Let's ask Jesus today for courage to 'bring the Gospel' to others - even when it seems tough, risky and counter-cultural.

Today 'GO GATHER PEOPLE for CHRIST!'

Paul Murphy

Coordinator of Redemptorist Youth Ministry (RYM)

RYM Daily Lenten Moment

Day 9 : 'Blessings'

I'm going to give you a little challenge today!

There's a beautiful song I'd love you all to listen to! Try and use it as the basis of your prayer today!

It's called 'Blessings' by American singer-songwriter Laura Story.

Watch and listen :

 

It's a simple yet stunningly emotional song - almost a litany of prayer - where she prays to God for blessings, for peace, for family, for protection, for healing and for wisdom.

We all receive so many blessings each day from our amazing God. He gives us all the special graces and blessings we need to sustain us and guide us in our daily journey.

But how often do we take these blessings from God for granted? How often do we pray for blessings in our lives? And how often do we give Him thanks for the wonderful graces and blessings He bestows upon us?

So as we reflect on the beautiful words from this song of prayer from Laura Story, let us do one thing today :-

Count our many blessings!

Paul Murphy

Coordinator of Redemptorist Youth Ministry

RYM Daily Lenten Moment

Day 8 : 'Signs'

It's a sign of the times, but signs are everywhere! They're an integral part of everyday life.

Signs direct us, show us the way, and lead us on our paths. Signs guide our ways, otherwise we become lost.

Today in Luke's Gospel, Jesus addressed the crowds and said 'This is a wicked generation: it is asking for a sign'.

Just as Jonah was to be that sign for the Ninevites, the Son of God was to be the sign for that generation and all generations.

Many of us today can feel lost. We search for meaning in our lives. We seek happiness and contentment. We long for peace and an end to our restlessness.

Signs can at times be helpful but also can be bamboozling.

Amid the confusion we sometimes choose the wrong sign, the wrong path, the way which takes us away from Christ.

Today as we think of the choices that we face, let us ask God to be the signpost to our lives. That He may guide us in ways that are level and smooth.

Let Jesus be your sign! After all He is 'The Way, The Truth and The Life.'

Paul Murphy

 Coordinator of Redemptorist Youth Ministry (RYM).

RYM Daily Lenten Moment

Day 7 : 'Simply Simplicity'

The Chinese philosopher Confucius once said that 'Life is really simple but we insist on making it complicated.'

I'm sure these words resonate with most of us. We have an uncanny knack of making our lives so much harder than they ought to be.

Work, family life, love - can all seem so complex these days. We even tend to overcomplicate our relationship with God.

There is a tendency in the busy-ness of our lives to overthink, overplan, overcommit, over-worry and overwhelm ourselves.

When I worked as an Educational Psychologist my boss once wisely told me 'Paul - do the simple things well, and everything will be just fine.'

For you see simplicity is good for the soul. There is an inherent beauty in simplicity.

St Thérèse of Lisieux is a perfect example : she sought to approach God through a path of simplicity and love.

After Mass yesterday I spent some time in silent Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Kneeling in silence and stillness before the Lord - not saying much - just adoring.

It was beautifully simple - and simply beautiful!

Like the simplicity of a child, let us come before Jesus today - and ask him for the grace to live our lives simply and full of love this Lent!

It'll quite simply change everything!

Paul Murphy

Coordinator of Redemptorist Youth Ministry (RYM)

RYM Daily Lenten Moment

Day 6 : 'Come As You Are'

Can you believe it is Day 6 of our journey together? Time flies when we're having fun.....I mean when we're praying, fasting and doing good works. Ahem.

Today we enter into our first full week of Lent.

So how are we? How are we feeling so far?

Maybe we have started off well.......maybe we haven't......maybe we are waning. Maybe we are struggling.

'The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak' (Matthew 26:41)

So why not forget about the past week, and where you want to be next week.

God wants you to 'come as you are' today!

He wants you to come to Him with your sufferings, your flaws, your doubts, your fears, your hopes and your dreams. He never tires of welcoming you! He is waiting for you!

Nelson Mandela once said that a 'saint is a sinner who keeps on trying'.

My namesake St Paul spoke of 'fighting the good fight' and of 'running the good race to the end' (2 Timothy 4:7)

So today just simply 'come as you are' to our most wonderful and loving Father who is always ready to greet us!

So let's pray:

Lord I need you!
May you increase as I decrease
May you grow as I surrender
Give me courage
Strengthen my faith
Deepen my love for you
Increase my trust in you 
Amen!

Paul Murphy

Coordinator of Redemptorist Youth Ministry (RYM).

RYM Daily Lenten Moment

Day 5: 'Love Until it Hurts'

'All you need is love' sang the Beatles!

And do you know something? They were right!

Love is the most beautiful gift we can give to another; and the most beautiful gift we can receive.

Love is that special indescribable feeling we all want to experience. We want to love and be loved.

In today's society we are bombarded with images of lust rather than love; sensuality rather than sensitivity; and so as Catholics and Christians we must prepare to be bold and counter-cultural when it comes to love and responsibility.

The cultural focus on instant self-seeking gratification blocks out and makes it hard for many of us to find love - a love that is real, authentic and self-giving.

'Love one another as I have loved you', Jesus commanded us!

Sounds so easy doesn't it? But my word it's hard! To love involves risk-taking and being brave.

'Love until it hurts', Blessed Teresa of Calcutta told us.

And the reality of it is - love does hurt! We all risk being hurt by loving someone or in our efforts to find love.

So on this Valentine's Day, let us pledge to love more.

Take time today to tell all those around you - your friends and family, husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend - that you love them! Never take them or love for granted.

We remember all who are single, lonely or broken hearted; all those who long for love.

And let me leave you today with a rather selfish and personal thought!

Being a single man - who longs for love and marriage - I pray today if it's God's will - that He will lead me to the girl I have yet to meet who will be my future wife. Lord protect her and keep her safe until we meet. Let her know that she is loved and prayed for every day! Amen!

Paul Murphy

 Coordinator of Redemptorist Youth Ministry (RYM)

RYM Daily Lenten Moment

Day 4: 'To Fast' or 'Too Fast'? That is the Q'

Everyone is in a mad rush these days! People are dashing here and there. The pace of life is relentless. Speed is of the essence and time is precious. The world around is moving......and it's moving fast!

Fast food and cars, express trains and supermarket lanes, super-fast broadband and even speed dating.

It seems we have no time to lose!

So it's ironic then that in Lent the word 'fast' means something quite different. It is a time where we slow everything down, where we take stock of our lives. Fasting helps us to deny ourselves rather than seek the instant fix to our needs and wants.

Fasting serves to remind us of our need for God. It serves to remind us that we can't do this alone and that only He can satisfy our hunger. We need Him and He needs us!

Its ironic again then that I write this to you from a Caffe Nero Express with an instant coffee in my hand, before dashing off to another meeting via the tube.

But hey! Lent is a journey not a race. So I've plenty time to practice what I preach!

We may not be able to change the pace of the world around us, but we can make a promise this Lent to slow down, deny ourselves a little and make time for the Lord and for others around us.

'To fast' or 'too fast'? - that is the question!

Paul Murphy

Coordinator of Redemptorist Youth Ministry

RYM Daily Lenten Moment

Day 3: 'New Paths'

Those who know me often describe me as that 'crazy travelling youth minister' sponsored by Virgin Trains. Such is the frequency of my train travel from city to city to work for Redemptorist Youth Ministry, I am renowned for making a good old journey.

Lent is also a truly epic season of 'journey' - a time where we aim to move that little bit closer towards God.

We try to do this through a renewed focus on the three pillars of Lenten observance - Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving.

But of course this isn't always easy; it's a difficult journey with many struggles, doubts and anxieties. Stones often bar my path and there are times I fall (so that famous hymn once told us).

All of us are accustomed to making journeys in our lives. We journey to work or school; we journey with our family and friends through their highs and lows; and we journey with ourselves - trying to figure out who we are and our purpose in life.

But how often do we end up making the same old journey in our lives? How often do we walk the same paths which seem safe and familiar? How often do we make the same mistakes or fall into the same habits of sin? How often do we ignore new opportunities to look at things differently?

Yesterday morning in London before I started work I decided to take an early morning stroll along the River Thames from Westminster to London Bridge.

Now usually I always stick to walking the South Bank of the river - a path I know like the back of my hand. It's familiar to me and I don't get lost. I know the sights to expect and the views to marvel at. It's all rather safe, tried and tested.

But yesterday was different - I chose to walk a different path - to journey along the North Bank of the River. Whilst my starting point and destination were the same, the journey was completely new and different.

I walked paths I'd never taken, encountered places I'd never seen and observed familiar landmarks with fresh eyes.

Taking the different path was liberating and rather exciting. All it took was a desire to explore and to take a leap of faith to experience something new.

So it can be similar with our faith journey. How often do we fail to take advantage of looking at our relationship with God with fresh eyes and a new heart?

Perhaps if we do one thing during Lent - let us commit to seeking the Lord more and more by being open to new ways of encountering Him and journeying towards Him. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to the Father in new and unexpected ways.

Take that leap of faith. The journey can be an exciting one - if we walk some new paths!

Paul Murphy

 Coordinator of Redemptorist Youth Ministry

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