Author Archive

Easter Reflection

April 20, 2014

Acts 10:34A, 37-43 * Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6B-8 * John 20:1-9

What is real? Daisies, chocolate, lions, and beaches. As is the man Jesus, who walked and wept, cooked, and healed. He is real.

Last January, I arose at four in the morning and made my way, silent and alone, like Mary Magdalene, to the very same place she went that Easter morning. It was early, still dark and the streets of Jerusalem were deserted. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is hard to find unless you are looking for it, hidden as it is in a small side street lined with Muslim street vendors selling Christian religious articles. As I walked into the church, I found Calvary on my right, just up a flight of stairs. The distance between the Cross and the Resurrection is barely a hundred yards.

I was blessed to be able to be one of four people at a Mass celebrated in Italian by a Polish priest inside the most of holy of tombs; the altar being a piece of marble placed over where Jesus was laid for three days. The one overwhelming conviction in my heart during the entire Mass: He is real, the Resurrection is real. In that sacred place, it is impossible to believe otherwise. And since he is real, that changes everything.

  • Looking back on my life up until now, are there times where I can see that God has tried to penetrate my heart, or have I given him permission to enter?
  • Reflect on the fact that Christ IS real. In what ways have I “proclaimed” this message to those around me today?

Sister Debbie Li
Sister Debbie Li is an Apostle of the Interior Life Sister and campus minister at St. Mary’s Catholic Center.

St. Mary’s Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Alleluia! He is Risen!

Happy Easter!!!

“On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.”
John 20:1-9

Holy Saturday / Easter Vigil Reflection

April 19, 2014

Matthew 28:1-10

“Do not be afraid.” These are the angel’s words to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary as he greets them at the tomb of Christ. Did you catch what happened just prior to this greeting? “There was a great earthquake” as the angel descended, his appearance was “like lightening,” and “the guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men.” And of course, the Lord is missing from the tomb. Do not be afraid? Those circumstances certainly seem to warrant fear.

“Do not be afraid.” These are also the Lord’s words to the women just moments later as he greets them along the road. Important enough words that Christ comes to speak them directly. Not empty words, but words rooted in a deep truth—rooted in the Truth. They proclaim the victory over sin and death that we have in Christ. He has risen. He has won. We need not be afraid.

Sometimes our circumstances seem to warrant fear. It can well up within us in the face of uncertainty, illness, danger, or hurt. Like an earthquake, fear shakes us up and disorients us. But the Lord meets each one of us on the way and speaks truth. He says to us, “Do not be afraid.”

  • What circumstances in your own life seem to stir up fear? Take some time today to bring your concerns before the Lord.
  • Hear him speak to you, “Do not be afraid.” How can you receive these words this Easter season? Let the truth of Christ’s victory sink in. We need not be afraid.

Sarah Hayes
Sarah Hayes is a campus ministry at St. Mary’s Catholic Center.

St. Mary’s Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Good Friday Reflection

April 18, 2014

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 * Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9 * John 18:1-19:42

As a college student, leaving all that was familiar had a way of not fitting into my plans. On Good Friday, I recall the moment of my calling. After months of trying not to hear God’s relentless voice, I could take it no longer. Kneeling in a Eucharistic chapel, I pleaded aloud: “Lord, what do you want me to do?”

Desperate for an answer, I opened my prayer book and flipped it open to a page at random. Time for some vocation roulette! “Why don’t you give yourself to God once and for all… really… now!” Oops! I fumbled frantically for a second opinion. “‘Go, preach the Gospel. I will be with you.’ Jesus has said this, and he has said it to you.” Houston, I thought, we have a problem. On to random page number three: “If you see your way clearly, follow it. Why don’t you shake off the cowardice that holds you back?” Strike three and you’re out!

I looked immediately at the crucifix, just like we each look at the cross this Good Friday. I remember hoping against hope that I could find just one muscle on Christ’s body that was not tense in pain out of love for me. If I could just find one, I naively thought, then I would not have to give everything. For it felt like what God was asking of me was pretty much everything.

At that moment, I recall being ashamed to look at the cross.

Raised anew by his strength alone, this Good Friday, “Let us run by patience to the fight proposed to us: looking on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, who having joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame.” -Hebrews 12:1-2

Father Michael Sullivan, LC
Fr Michael Sullivan is the Legion’s vocation director, chaplain of Pope John XXIII High School, and a Fightin’ Texas Aggie Wannabe.

St. Mary’s Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Holy Thursday Reflection

April 17, 2014

Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14 * 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 * John 13:1-15

The majestic opening words of the Gospel for the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper have always been awe-inspiring to me: “Jesus knew that his hour had come….” He was “fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God.”

Jesus’ power as the Eternal Word is set side-by-side with the humility of his actions on this evening: precisely because he was aware that he was returning to God, “he rose from supper and took off his outer garments…. Then he… began to wash the disciples’ feet.”

The message is clear: this is who our God is. His power and majesty are revealed in his ability to set both aside and perform the task of a slave. Jesus reveals to us the true nature of love: “He loved his own in the world, and he loved them to the end.” All of them, by the way: Judas was still there, and Jesus knows that he will betray him.

  • Jesus continues to show us this love as he gives himself to us in the Eucharist, and he commands us to imitate him. Can I allow him to teach it to me?

Father Jonathan Raia
Father Jonathan began as associate pastor of St. Mary’s in July 2013. He was ordained a priest in 2009.

St. Mary’s Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Lenten Reflection for Wednesday of Holy Week

April 16, 2014

Isaiah 50:4-9A * Matthew 26:14-25

Jesus faces the betrayal of a friend, which sends him into the hands of his enemies. When Judas offers to betray Christ, he asks the chief priests, “What will you give me?” It is often easy to focus on what others can give to us, and lose sight of their inherent value. This type of selfishness objectifies others and places their worth in what they can do for us.

Judas sold Christ for thirty pieces of silver. Christ became nothing more than an object traded for money to Judas. When we approach Christ with an attitude of demanding something for ourselves, we will turn away from him as soon as following him becomes difficult. We will be easily swayed by offers of affection, comfort, or financial gain, as Judas was. Christ has already given himself to us through his incarnation, suffering and death on the cross, and in the Eucharist. He should be approached not with demands, but with gratitude and love.

  • Have I betrayed Christ in any way? What was I seeking instead of Christ?
  • Do I approach Jesus with a thankful heart? How has Jesus given himself to me?

Annette Denton
Class of 2014
Master of Public Service and Administration

St. Mary’s Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Lenten Reflection for Tuesday, April 15

April 15, 2014

Isaiah 49:1-6 * John 13:21-33, 36-38

“Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”

As we continue through Holy Week, we get this scene of the Last Supper, and we hear these heavy words from Jesus. The disciples are confused by Jesus’ statement, and they simply look at each other, wondering about whom Jesus is referring to; surely none of them will turn against him. In reading this Gospel, my mind kept going to the passage in Genesis when the Lord asks Cain where his brother is, to which he replies, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Surely we are each other’s keepers. As members of the Mystical Body of Christ, we rely on one another to continue growing in faith, especially in our darkest moments. You never know where you will find the doubtful or the weak.

We need to always be alert and see how the devil is not only trying to tempt us, but also trying to tempt our brothers and sisters. Even those with the strongest of faith experience doubts. Simon Peter ends up denying Jesus three times, as it is foreshadowed at the end of the reading.

Amidst all the darkness, Jesus fills us with hope by saying that we “will follow later.” This is the promise that we will be reunited with him in his glory. So let us await his glorious resurrection.

  • What are some ways Satan might be trying to tempt you?
  • What is keeping you from truly giving your heart to God?
  • What is holding you back to following Christ?


St. Mary’s Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Lenten Reflection for Monday, April 14

April 14, 2014

Isaiah 42:1-7 * John 12:1-11

The Gospel today gives us a glimpse of a man whose life has been radically transformed by an encounter with Jesus Christ. Lazarus was a normal guy. He had friends, went to the store, and enjoyed leisurely pastimes. Eventually he grew ill, fought sickness, and died. Lazarus could be me or you.

It is not until Jesus Christ comes into the picture that Lazarus becomes a noteworthy figure. Lazarus is freed from the confines of death that entrap all other people and rises to new life in Christ.

We hear in the Gospel that Lazarus caused many Jews to believe in Jesus. Lazarus became a walking testament to the power of Jesus Christ. His every action and conversation made Christ present to those around him, and Lazarus lived with the knowledge that every breath was a gift from God. His life could not help but echo the cry of the psalms, “The Lord is my light and my salvation.”

We too then, who have the joy of knowing Christ, should spend every living moment shining his light.

  • In what area of my life do I need Christ to bring me fully alive?
  • How do I walk each day with the knowledge that Christ has brought me back from the dead?
  • How can I make my life a living testament to the glory of God?

Colby Jackson
Class of 2014
Major: Management Information Systems
Future Plans: I’d like to be a saint some day, but at the moment I am applying to study as a seminarian for the Diocese of Austin.

St. Mary’s Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

Holy Week and The Triduum

Some insights into Holy Week and the Triduum from Pope Francis to start us off:

This week begins with the festive procession with olive branches: the entire populace welcomes Jesus. The children and young people sing, praising Jesus.

But this week continues in the mystery of Jesus’ death and his resurrection. We have just listened to the Passion of our Lord. We might well ask ourselves just one question: Who am I? Who am I, before my Lord? Who am I, before Jesus who enters Jerusalem amid the enthusiasm of the crowd? Am I ready to express my joy, to praise him? Or do I stand back? Who am I, before the suffering Jesus?

We have just heard many, many names. The group of leaders, some priests, the Pharisees, the teachers of the law, who had decided to kill Jesus. They were waiting for the chance to arrest him. Am I like one of them?

We have also heard another name: Judas. Thirty pieces of silver. Am I like Judas? We have heard other names too: the disciples who understand nothing, who fell asleep while the Lord was suffering. Has my life fallen asleep? Or am I like the disciples, who did not realize what it was to betray Jesus? Or like that other disciple, who wanted to settle everything with a sword? Am I like them? Am I like Judas, who feigns loved and then kisses the Master in order to hand him over, to betray him? Am I a traitor? Am I like those people in power who hastily summon a tribunal and seek false witnesses: am I like them? And when I do these things, if I do them, do I think that in this way I am saving the people?

Am I like Pilate? When I see that the situation is difficult, do I wash my hands and dodge my responsibility, allowing people to be condemned – or condemning them myself?

Am I like that crowd which was not sure whether they were at a religious meeting, a trial or a circus, and then chose Barabbas? For them it was all the same: it was more entertaining to humiliate Jesus.

Am I like the soldiers who strike the Lord, spit on him, insult him, who find entertainment in humiliating him?

Am I like the Cyrenean, who was returning from work, weary, yet was good enough to help the Lord carry his cross?

Am I like those who walked by the cross and mocked Jesus: “He was so courageous! Let him come down from the cross and then we will believe in him!”. Mocking Jesus….

Am I like those fearless women, and like the mother of Jesus, who were there, and who suffered in silence?

Am I like Joseph, the hidden disciple, who lovingly carries the body of Jesus to give it burial?

Am I like the two Marys, who remained at the Tomb, weeping and praying?

Am I like those leaders who went the next day to Pilate and said, “Look, this man said that he was going to rise again. We cannot let another fraud take place!”, and who block life, who block the tomb, in order to maintain doctrine, lest life come forth?

Where is my heart? Which of these persons am I like? May this question remain with us throughout the entire week.

The Triduum is made up of the three days before Easter – Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. It is a single prayer of final preparation where we enter into the redemption of humanity and the salvation of the world made present in the Resurrection of our Lord.

This is the holiest part of the year and makes present the mystery of Jesus passion and death before He rises again.

  • Holy Thursday - The Mass of the Lord’s Supper, it is the celebration of the first Eucharist in the upper room. This is when we have the annual washing of feet. Usually there is no other Mass celebrated on this day. Extra hosts are consecrated and then all of the Blessed Sacrament are taken from the Church and the tabernacle is left open to signify our longing for Christ. We have adoration after this mass as our last act of worship before the sorrow of Good Friday. 
  • Good Friday - Celebration of the Lord’s Passion. There is no Mass this day. Usually there are Stations of The Cross and a Communion service. This is when we have veneration of the Cross and the entire Passion of Christ is read. 
  • Easter Vigil – This is the high-point of the Church’s year. During this celebration of Christ’s death and Resurrection we have the RCIA candidates and elect receive the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist). The vigil must take place after night falls. It starts with an Easter fire outside of the Church. Then the paschal (Easter) candle is lit and processed into the Church. Then we all share the light of Christ with one another. Afterward, we have the Liturgy of the Word, which will have many readings about the story of God’s Salvation history (7 Old Testament and 2 New Testament readings). Then after the homily, we celebrate baptism and confirmation. After this we celebrate the Eucharist. It is a long and absolutely beautiful liturgy with many “smells and bells”. 

We should prayerfully enter into the coming Holy Week in preparation for Christ’s rising from the dead. Christ have mercy on us all!

Lenten Reflection for Palm Sunday, April 13

April 13, 2014

Matthew 21:1-11 * Isaiah 50:4-7 * Philippians 2:6-11 * Matthew 26:14-27: 66

Thinking about the best and worst days you’ve ever had is a good entrance into the mystery of Palm Sunday. In comparison, think about Jesus’s visit to Jerusalem. He experienced both a high and a low far beyond anything we will ever experience. The two don’t seem to fit together, but they had to happen together. Even though they did not realize it, the people who cheered Jesus and hailed him as the Messiah exalted him because of the sacrifice he would offer of himself. Yet, when the time came, many of them—without really knowing or truly understanding it—would demand that sacrifice when they asked for Jesus to be executed.

The day that Jesus suffered and died is called Good Friday, and, in a sense, that’s a funny name. People ask, “What’s so good about Good Friday?” “Didn’t Jesus die?” “What’s good about that?” All of these are fair questions. I’m sure the disciples on that Friday didn’t understand how good would come from the events of the day. Without the Holy Spirit, they were unable to figure out how everything fit together.

We have an advantage that the disciples did not. We have already read the next chapter in the Gospels—we know why everything happened and we know what happens next. Jesus knew that submitting himself to his Father’s will and embracing death, would free billions from eternal death. This is why we are a people of hope and why we know that it is very good, indeed.

Deacon David Reed
Deacon David is a permanent deacon at St. Mary’s Catholic Center.

St. Mary’s Catholic Center will post a daily reflection from a student, former student, or staff member every day of Lent. We have compiled these reflections into a handout, given to our students on Ash Wednesday.

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