2017 Notre Dame College Lenten Journey - Reconciliation, Reaching out, Repairing the World

Weekly Reflections

Easter Sunday Reflection (a reflection on the readings)

Readings:     ACTS 10:34A, 37-43        COL  3: 1-4      JN  20: 1–9

“Seek what is above”

When so much of life is based on the now and what is happening around us, it is hard to remember that this is just a stepping stone, a beginning to the bigger picture with God. As a senior in college, I think back to my freshman year and losing my grandma. It was such a heartbreaking thing to have someone taken away at such an important time in my life. Her last words to me before she passed away were “I’m so proud of you”. Though I will never know what my grandma would have said after I cross that stage on May 6th, on that very day I will be “seeking what is above”.

God has a plan for all of us and sometimes it’s difficult to see what that is. Sometimes it would be easier to close our eyes and wish it away, but it is not really ours to begin with. We do not choose whose lives we enter in and out of and we struggle to control what happens to us on a daily basis. I think this is because God is in control. It is better to give God the reins of our lives rather than trying to control it ourselves. One is told to follow God and do as he would do, I think that when one does this, things start to make more sense.

Death is something that most people find frightening, but why is that? If one is to believe that God is there waiting for us at the end, then there should be no fear, just love. Love is what God embodies, and when the time is right, God shows us that love taking us away from all our suffering and struggle. The next time any one of us is struggling, we should “seek what is aboveand know that God has a plan for us. This life on earth is just a small ripple in our big ocean, and sometimes it might feel like you have thrown in many pennies, but the goal is to keep pushing because at the end we will meet our maker.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen!


Julia Brigid Frishgesell ‘17

Early Childhood Education


Palm Sunday, The Sixth Sunday of Lent (a reflection on the readings) 

Procession Gospel:   Matthew 21:1-11 

Liturgy of the Word Readings:    Isaiah 50:4-9a            Philippians 2:5-11            Matthew 26:14- 27:66



“Hosanna, loud hosanna, the little children sang; through pillared court and temple the lovely anthem rang.” The first notes to the song rise from the organ to fill the sanctuary as the children line up at the back. With freshly scrubbed faces, combed hair and bright eyes, donned in special Sunday clothes, they eagerly await the placement of a palm branch in each of their hands.


As the procession begins, smiling parents turn to see their own little ones march up the aisles, waving their branches in wide arcs. The children have the opportunity to circle the pews several times, as the song loops over and over again, destined to stay in all minds the remainder of the day. Finally, the children join their families in the pews, and a good portion of the service is spent with parents putting hands in laps, oftentimes resorting to removing the palms from hands, as siblings are determined to taunt each other by tickling necks or ears with the palm leaves.


While I vividly remember the years celebrating Palm Sunday in this fashion when my four children were young, I can only imagine the celebration of the Triumphal Entry many years ago. Matthew 21:1-11 paints the picture for us: the disciples collect a donkey and its colt, place their cloaks on their backs, and help Jesus to climb on them for the ride into Jerusalem. Eager crowds prepare the path for the king – pulling down branches and throwing them and their own cloaks to the dusty ground for the donkeys to tread upon. Shouts of “Hosanna” fill the air – an expression of adoration, praise and joy for deliverance granted or anticipated. “The whole city was stirred” at the arrival of Jesus.


But Matthew 26:14 – 27:66 shares painful stories of how fickle humans are, given changing circumstances and fear – even Jesus’ most loyal followers. Judas cuts a deal with the chief priests to turn Jesus over to them (26:14-16) – one that Jesus announces to the disciples at their final Passover meal (26:20-25). Even being called out by Jesus does not stop Judas from not only following through on the plan, but also using a sign of affection – a kiss – as his means of identifying Jesus to the arresting soldiers (26:47-50). Judas feels regret too late – returning the meager payment for selling his Lord, and hanging himself (27:3-5). Peter, one of Jesus’ most loyal followers, declares, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you” when Jesus predicts his denial (26:31-35), yet he does just that – three times – as Jesus is on trial with the Sanhedrin (26:69-75). Again, the pain of his regret is too late. After their meal, before his arrest, Jesus asks the disciples to stay and keep watch with him as he prays in earnest to his Father to “take this cup away from me”, yet – three times – they fall asleep. When they finally awaken, it is too late. And they all desert him and flee (27:36-55). So, if Jesus’ most beloved followers react this way, can we expect any better from the extended group? Those who prepared his path, waved palms over him and shouted “Hosanna” just days before? When presented with the opportunity to save Jesus, they instead choose the release of the notorious prisoner Barabbas, shouting, “Crucify him” as the fate of the man they called their messiah (27:15-26). Jesus is flogged, mocked, spit upon, nailed to a cross and dies in agony, without one of those believers at his side, bearing the burden of the sins of all of mankind in his broken body.


It is so difficult to read this sequence of events without judging Jesus’ disciples and larger group of followers. We are blessed to live in a free country where we most likely will not suffer physical harm for our religious beliefs. But even if we are not faced with situations in which our choices have the magnitude of those so many years ago, how often do we act in ways, or refuse to act in ways, that do have an impact on the lives of those we encounter? Is there a hurt that you have been holding in your heart and a person from whom you have been withholding forgiveness? Saying “I forgive you” might be as life changing for you as it is for them. Have you witnessed an injustice that your voice could have stopped? It is within your power to act NOW, so you never have to feel the regret too late. As busy as you are, can you spare a few moments to be present and listen to your friend who is going through a tough time? Smile at the weary cashier, hold a door for someone, say “thank you” and really mean it. It does not have to be anything major.  Our combined acts of love, kindness and forgiveness will go a long way in the creation of wholeness in our community and our world.


Cheryl Noviski, CPA

Controller, Finance Office


Fifth Sunday of Lent (a reflection on the readings)

Ezekiel 37:12-14 …  Psalm 32 … Romans 8:8-11 … John 11:1-45

I remember reading a story in a magazine about a husband and wife whose six-month old baby had died many years ago. At that time the couple was living in Pakistan. A kind and wise old Punjabi heard about their grief and came to comfort them. He shared with them that a tragedy like theirs was “just like being plunged into boiling water. If you are an ‘egg’, your affliction will make you hard-boiled and unresponsive. If you are a ‘potato’ you will emerge soft, pliable, resilient and adaptable”. The mother took those words to heart and carried them with her over the years. She said: “It may sound funny to God, but there have been many times when I prayed, ‘O Lord, please let me be a potato’.”

In today’s Gospel, when Jesus visits the tomb of His friend, Lazarus, there were no “potatoes” among the mourners. Lazarus’ sisters, friends and relatives were weeping inconsolably. And, when Jesus was confronted with their deep sorrow, He also began to weep. But then He restores Lazarus to life. Jesus comforts the mourners and turns their tears of sorrow into tears of joy.

In the 14th Chapter of John’ Gospel we have a record of how Jesus further comforts His disciples. In their time of need He assures them, that even when He is gone, He will send a Comforter to be with them. In the midst of their troubles He keeps repeating words of comfort: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Don’t be afraid. Peace, I give you. My peace I leave with you.”

As we travel through these last two weeks of our Lenten journey let us be assured that the Lord always walks with us as our Comforter. And, as His disciples, let us be open to the ways we can be of comfort to those in need and bring them to new life.


Father Anselm Zupka, O.S.B.

Campus Ministry


Fourth Sunday of Lent (a reflection on the readings)

1 Samuel 16: 1b, 6-7, 10-13a       Psalm 23: 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6     Ephesians 5: 8-14     John 9: 1-41

In John 9, the man born blind didn’t ask to see. He didn’t request healing from Jesus. The disciples were just walking along when they asked Jesus a question—a question that showed their ignorance. So Jesus took the opportunity to heal one physically blind person but to also teach others about what it means to truly see.

Even though the man didn’t ask for healing from Jesus, he embraced that healing when the opportunity came. He followed Jesus’ instructions to wash in the pool of Siloam and then defended Jesus to the leaders of his own religious community.

Debbie Dacone spoke on this passage at this past Wednesday’s “Women and the Word” event at the College. She pointed out that since the man was blind, he probably had a well-developed sense of hearing. Because of this, he was in a good position to become a disciple of Jesus, one who intently listened to and understood Jesus’ call.

I wonder if this story says something about how God calls us. Maybe even (or especially) at a time when we’re not asking God for anything, God offers healing, hope, a chance for a changed identity. The challenge is whether we’re listening intently and intentionally enough to hear it.

Lent can be a good time to practice more intentional listening. Many people give something up during Lent to better focus their attention on things that really matter.

I know several students who gave up social media for Lent. They are, in a sense, making themselves blind to the continuous flow of images and status updates that usually captivate their attention. These students report being more focused on schoolwork and on their spiritual lives. They talk about noticing sunsets or other people at times when they would normally be looking at their phones. Their forced blindness to the virtual world is making them more attentive to the real world around and within them. 

If we want to work for reconciliation and repair of the world, a good way to start is with our own souls, with a response to the invitation of God’s healing in us. Perhaps all it takes is a willingness to pay attention—and then the courage to act on what we hear.

Following God’s call is indeed a courageous and risky act. Jesus’ healing may have actually made life more difficult for the man in John 9. As a blind person he was probably on the edge of his community, but as a follower of Jesus he was totally driven out of his community (see verse 34).

Still, I suspect that the man did not regret his decision to listen to and follow Jesus. I suspect he didn’t regret embracing the radical change that Jesus brought to his life. And, I suspect, neither will we.


Anita Hooley Yoder

Campus Ministry Coordinator



Third Sunday of Lent (a reflection on the readings)

Exodus 17:1-7   Psalm 95   Romans 5:1-2 and 5-8   John 4:5-42

Water, water everywhere - and not a drop to drink." 

As I read through this week's readings, and thought about my reflection on them, that's the line that kept looping in my brain. The readings reiterate the belief that, oftentimes, what we need is right in front of or all around us; we get caught up in our everyday happenings, trials, and, well, "stuff" that we fail to see the good that is ready-and-waiting for us - God's grace. 

The passage from Exodus, where the Israelites quarrel with Moses and demand water, concludes with Moses drawing water from the stone and calling the place Massah and Meribah, which translate, roughly, to "test" and "strife." While it's unlikely we'll find ourselves in this particular circumstance in a Middle East desert, the notions of doubt, frustration, feeling tested, and wondering how we get into - and out of - certain situations... are probably all too real to us. Like the Israelites, we struggle with belief. God's love and grace may be all around us - but do we believe it unless there's tangible evidence, until we can cup the water in our outstretched hands?

Psalm 95 reminds us to make God the center of our lives, and cautions against hardening our hearts in times of doubt or struggle. Isn't it easy to shut people out, to erect emotional divides around ourselves, when we feel God doesn't hear us or answer our prayers? I didn't ace that paper or test I felt so confident about. I didn't get that job, even though I'm more than qualified. S/he seemed so interested; why didn't s/he ever text back? Well, maybe in each of those circumstances, we really made ourselves the center of it all, instead of trusting God to give us what we needed most at that time. The lower grade teaches us to work even harder next time. There's probably a better job opportunity coming around the bend. And, s/he doesn't know what they're missing. If/when we trust in God's grace, and keep our hearts open to that grace, we see the other wealth of options around us.

Similarly, the reading from Romans shows us an incredible domino effect. Our suffering builds our endurance; endurance, the ability to "stick it out" builds our character; strength of character gives us hope. What if we aced every assignment, got hired after every interview, or never got turned down romantically? Would it matter? Would we appreciate it? It's really the "miss"es in life that shape us and make us grow. It's only through failure and loss that we can appreciate success. What we sometimes can only see in hindsight is part of God's "big picture" for us - if we hold faith/belief, even when tested, and make God the center of our lives lived with open hearts, He builds our character and we live in hope.

The Gospel reading from John brings us back to a water image with the woman at the well. While she's tried to quench her thirst in any number of ways, her true search is for love - and, wow, can we relate to her - we've all looked for love, for fulfillment, in a proverbial "dry well" at some point, right? Christ knows her, knows us, inside-and-out - better than we even know ourselves. He knows that the truest love is our relationship with God. That's what will fulfill us most. What is she really thirsty for? God's grace. 

So, this Lenten season, we can think of the wells we'll visit in life, and of the times we'll feel tested, frustrated, and lost. At times, we will undoubtedly feel lost and alone, thirsting for things we maybe can't even give name to. But, if we look to God with honest, open belief, and keep God at the center, we'll come to see constant, life-giving grace around us. There is truly water, God's grace, love, and hope for us, flowing everywhere.

Elizabeth C. Presley, M.Ed. '00, '06

Notre Dame College Alumna


Second Sunday of Lent (a reflection on the readings)

Genesis 12:1-4a  …  2 Timothy 1:8b - 10 ...  Matthew 17:1-9

When students thinks about their lives, they tend to have a set plan in mind. I’m sure that all of us here at NDC have that same mindset: I am here to do well in school, graduate, and become successful in life. Many have heard the phrase “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans”, and that definitely applies to all of us here. Together, we are journeying through life, and with life comes its many battles and accomplishments. We may think that God just keeps testing us because He does not like us, or think that God is absent in our lives when things go wrong, all because events occur that are opposite to our plans.

In this Sunday’s second reading, we see that God calls us to ‘Bear your share of hardship for the gospel.” This suggests we must be willing to sacrifice and lay down our life for Him, just as He has through His Son. It continues saying that God has called us to live a holy life according to His plans, and not our own. God truly wants us to abandon our preset plans and trust in Him to lead each of our lives to one that is meaningful, prosperous, and faithful

It is very hard to give up your plans, especially when the road ahead looks neatly paved. The truth is that all the roads ahead, whether we plan them or not, will be rough. There will be many hardships, as Jesus himself faced, and many sacrifices will need to be made. Lent is truly all about sacrifice, and not the kind of sacrifice where you only give up something small for forty days; it is a challenge for us to let go of our own plans and let God take the reins to develop a closer relationship with Him, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. God knows that life is hard, and that there is no easy way to go about it, so He asks us especially in this time to let go of our worries and cling to Him and His love, grace, and mercy that He has for each and every one of us. God ultimately supplies us with our every need, and we must learn to trust in Him, no matter what comes our way.

Rebecca Regnier ‘19

Education Major – Teacher Candidate K-3/MMIS


First Sunday of Lent (a reflection on the readings)

Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 …  Psalm 32 … Romans 5:12-19  … Matthew 4:1-11

To begin the Lenten season, our readings talk about sin: acknowledging it, noting it, and being mindful of it. As Catholics, we trace our understanding back to early Genesis. Human beings took it upon themselves to acquire moral knowledge. We took from the tree together, devouring the fruit of this knowledge of good and evil. We did so, however, tempted without listening to God. We did not heed God’s word; in the story of Adam and Eve we find a bit of ourselves reflected back. Neither they nor we stop to ask why we are so tempted to serve our own ends and often abandon listening to God. Our desires can easily blind us. If we were to listen, we would know that God is, as Paul reminds, love.

I often think, sin is very much like losing connection on our cell phones. Sin is an interruption in service in the soul phone service we call God. We feel sin wedging back into our lives with selfishness here and mindlessness there, making us think that our connection is no longer present, let alone important. For the philosopher, vanity and pride are constant temptations, philosophers want to be right, even at the expense of the intellectual humility it often takes to be right.

Lent is a time where we can be mindful of our soul plan going forward. Our Catholic spiritual practices give us ways to recover what was lost. We need not think we have lost the connection to God. Instead, notice in Psalm 32:10, we are reminded that “steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the LORD.” Love gives us our connection back. It is through love, and trusting in that love that grace restores our soul’s connection to God. In that moment when we remember Christ, when we seek to imitate Christ, we become enjoined to Him in and the spirit of God. Acting in the presence of Christ we become aware of how present in Christ we are to another human being and Lent gives us pause. We pause to reflect on those sacrifices such love requires. To truly love, we must give love away in order to receive it. 

J. Edward Hackett, Ph.D.

Visiting Instructor for Philosophy


Ash Wednesday (a reflection on the readings)

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 or Isaiah 58:1-12  … Psalm 51:1-17 … 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10 ... Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

The Jewish community likes to use a rich phrase Tikkun olam, repairing the world, when considering the need for social justice and care for the common good. As we enter the Lenten season, Jesus seems to call for that kind of action, a repairing the world effort, as we are encouraged to fast today and this season.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness.”  The Prophet, Isaiah

Each year, Lent offers each of us in the Christian community a chance to consider our journey. “Where am I? What is my relationship with God? Am I doing anything to make the world, my NDC group of friends, the world a better place? Do I think about my words? Where am I spending myself to help others?”

Notre Dame College seeks to walk the path of reconciliation, repairing the world and reaching out during this Lenten season. This special Lenten Reflection link will connect faculty, staff, students, alumni, potential students, and board members with a weekly Lenten consideration written by a member of the NDC community.

As we take the first steps in the Lenten journey this Ash Wednesday, consider what your fasting will look like. Each one of us is called to a unique relationship with God and with our family and friends. Lent asks us to STOP; to find some time each day to pray for peace, for the sick, or for a troubled friend. Make Lent real this year! Hold yourself accountable each day for reaching out in some way to heal our environment, to heal a relationship, or perhaps heal yourself by overcoming a bad habit.

Watch for the reflections that will come from colleagues in the Notre Dame College Community. Thank you ahead of time for those willing to share their reflections and a bit of their journey. Thank you to those who will read these reflections and walk in a way that leads to the reconciliation and repair of our world.

Sr. Carol Ziegler, SND, Ph.D.
Chief Mission Officer, Executive Director of the Abrahamic Center


January 24
11:30 AM
Wednesday January 24, 11:30am
Connelly Dining Hall
E.g., 01/24/18
E.g., 01/24/18