Saturday of the First Week of Lent (Mt. 5:43-48)

Today’s Gospel passage is perhaps the central and the most famous section of the Sermon on the Mount. It gives us the Christian ethic of personal relationship: love one’s neighbors and forgive one’s enemies. Above all, it tells us that what makes Christians different is the grace with which they interact with others, treating them with loving kindness and mercy, especially when those others seemingly don’t deserve it. The Old Law never said to hate enemies, but that was the way some Jews understood it. Jesus commands that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us in order to demonstrate that we are children of a merciful Heavenly Father. From the cross, Jesus prayed for all of those who were crucifying him – which includes all fallen humankind, and so ourselves — saying, ‘Father forgive them; they know not what they do.’” (Lk 23:34). A Christian has no personal enemies. If we only love our friends, we are no different from pagans or atheists. We are to try to be perfect, to be like God: We become perfect when we fulfill God’s purpose in creating us: with His help, to become God-like. We become perfect when, with His ongoing help, we try to love as God loves, to forgive as God forgives and to show unconditional good will and universal benevolence as God does. (Fr. Tony)

Friday of the First Week of Lent (Mt. 5:20-26)

When Jesus speaks of surpassing the virtues of the scribes and the Pharisees, he does not deny the good intention and the obedience of these people. Nor does Jesus mean that the disciples must be more zealous than the Pharisees, outdoing them in the observance of the laws and the commandments. What Jesus teaches is to view the Law with a new heart, with a new righteousness that does not start with human beings but with God. Jesus warns his hearers that unless their righteousness does not go beyond that of the scribes and Pharisees, they will never enter the Kingdom of God. These religious leaders champion the strict literal observance of the Law, but in doing so, they remain on the surface or the letter. Jesus calls attention to a deeper righteousness that goes beyond external observance, fulfilling the spirit of the Law. A person may not be committing an actual murder, but Jesus declares that murderous feelings or hateful and angry words even calling another “fool,” are equally condemnable. Jesus teaches that it is always good to look into the true spirit behind a law and the good it is supposed to promote in society. Religion, as a matter of fact, is not a matter of piling up “good works” so that at the end we expect reward from God. Rather, it is a personal relationship with the Lord, a matter of the heart in love with God and neighbor, a love which translates into action.

Thursday of the First Week of Lent (Mt. 7:7-12)

Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are important practices for Lent. Without prayer, fasting and almsgiving become mere traditional actions without much meaning. Prayer associates us with God, like a child to a Father. The words “ask, seek, and knock” indicate our plea to come closer and be more intimate with God. Prayer is our conversation with God; it allows us to reflect on our situation of needs - physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Prayer provides us with the time to examine the patterns of our life, whether they are in consonance with the will of God. Thus prayer offers us a very special moment to deepen our relationship and commitment with God. And as we become aware of our relationship with the divine, so also do we become conscious of the needs of others. St. Augustine says that fasting and almsgiving are “two wings of prayer” because they are signs that translates to charity to others. In today’s Gospel, taken from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus outlines the conditions for fruitful and effective prayer. The first condition is trusting Faith and confidence in the goodness and promises of a loving Father. As a loving Father, God knows what to give, when to give, and how to give, irrespective of what we ask for. And the second is persistence in prayer; trusting persistence reflects our dependence on, and trust in, God. That is why Jesus asks us to keep on asking, seeking and knocking.

Dear Friends,

We wish to thank all of you who have been mailing in and dropping off your donations to St. Paschal. You have made it possible for us to continue to pay our bills as usual in March so that we can keep our parish open. We ask that you will continue your donations so that we can continue to keep our parish operating in the coming months. We pray that this crisis will be over soon so that we can all gather together again in the House of Our Lord. We are here in the office for anything that you may need so please do not hesitate to call. Please call Donna at St. Catherine's at 434-374-8408 if you cannot reach anyone at St. Paschal's. We are praying for all of you and your families to be safe from this virus. May the Good Lord keep us all in His Tender Loving Care! God Bless You Always, Fr. Ongen and Fr. Richard

Oratio Imperata/Prayer

God our Father,

we come to You in need to ask for Your protection against the 2019 N-Corona Virus,

that has claimed lives and has affected many.

We pray for Your grace for the people tasked with studying the nature and cause

of this virus and its disease and of stemming the tide of its transmission.

Guide the hands and minds of medical experts that they may minister to the sick

with competence and compassion, and of those government and private agencies

that must find cure and solution to this epidemic.

We pray for those afflicted may they be restored to health soon.

Grant us the grace to work for the good of all and to help those in need.

Grant this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen

Mary help of all Christians, pray for us

St. Raphael the Archangel, pray for us

St. Roch, pray for us

St. Peter the Apostle, pray for us