Notre Dame College Offers Weekly Reflections for Lent 2019

Colleagues in the Notre Dame College community share their reflections during this Lenten season. Messages will be presented for Ash Wednesday, the six Sundays of Lent and the Triduum of Easter.


Sunday, March 17, 2019


Luke 9: 28B – 36:  “See His Face”

Don’t we all want to see God’s face? The readings today describe amazing appearances of God’s power and beauty. Abraham saw a blaze of fire consume the offerings he set in place to seal the covenant God had made. The promise was to give him a land and offspring as numerous as the stars. Abraham believed God, even though he was 85 years old.  

What happened after this vision? At least 15 years of daily living. Traveling with his elderly wife Sarai and their slaves and herds. Nothing special. Nothing amazing. No visions in the dark. And no son. Finally, Sarai gave one of her maid servants to Abraham so that at least she would have a child through the little servant. When he was 100 years old, Sarai herself gave birth to Isaac. 

The everyday-ness of Abraham’s waiting, years of waiting, might be more authentic evidence of his faith, than believing God’s power expressed in the fire that burned those sacrifices years before.

Luke recounts the one instance of Jesus’ divine glory shining through his usually ordinary human presence. The words are stunning: his clothing became as brilliant as lightning, the apostles saw his glory, he spoke with Moses and Elijah. Peter wanted to set up tents and stay forever. Almost as suddenly everything disappeared and they saw “only Jesus.” Again, nothing special. Nothing glorious. And for the rest of their days with Jesus, they saw nothing but his human face, sometimes tired, a few times angry, disappointed, and even sad. Even the apostles who witnessed the transfiguration didn’t believe he rose from the dead until days later.

What about us? Why can’t we have a least one glorious vision? Then our lives will be changed, for sure. Or will they? Abraham’s life was not changed after his vision.  Neither were Peter, James and John. Or are we missing the vision of God, looking at God’s face right near us and not seeing it?

I’ve found hints at the answer, one in a poem and another in a little story. Gerard Manley Hopkins says in “As kingfishers catch fire,” --I paraphrase--good persons act with grace every moment, and God sees in them Christ,

…for Christ plays in ten thousand places,

Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his

To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

This is where we see God’s face, in each person we meet.

And here is the little story called “Finding God in the Park.” Is it coincidence that the old man is named Abe, and that he’s 85, the same age as Abraham was when he was God in the fire?

Abe was fiercely independent, even at age 85, but after a mild stroke his son insisted he move in with him. Abe missed going to the park near his old apartment, and one Saturday he set out to find it.

When he became disoriented, he asked a young boy named Timmy where the park was. Timmy said he’d like to take him there, but he didn’t have time because he was looking for God. He said he needed to talk to Him about why his parents were getting a divorce.

“Maybe God’s in the park,” the old man said. “I’d like to talk to Him, too, about why He’s made me useless.” And so they set off together to find God.

At the park, Timmy began to cry about the divorce, and Abe lovingly held his face in both hands and looked him straight in the eyes. “Timmy, I don’t know why bad things happen, but I know it wasn’t because of you. I know you’re a good boy and your parents love you and they will always love you. I know you will be okay.”

Timmy gave Abe a big hug and said, “I’m so glad I met you. Thanks. I think I can go now.”

From across the street, Timmy’s mother saw them hug and approached her son in a worried voice. “Who was that old man?”

“I think he’s God,” Timmy said.

“Did he say that?” she demanded.

“No, but when he touched my cheek and told me I’m going to be okay, I felt really better. Only God can do that.”

When Abe got home, his son asked in a scolding voice, “Where were you?”

“I was in the park with God.”

“Really? What makes you think you were with God?”

“Because He sent me a boy who needed me, and when the boy hugged me, I felt God telling me I wasn’t useless anymore.”

Carol Ziegler, SND., Ph.D.

Chief Mission Officer and Executive Director of the Abrahamic Center


Sunday, March 10, 2019


For if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  [Romans 10:9]

The glamor of Ash Wednesday is over, and now the journey of Lent begins.  It is time for us to get in touch with ourselves.  It’s time to look at ourselves in the mirror of life — what do we see;  or better yet: what does God see?

What we fail to see and understand often is that we are all defined by the one who made us — God.  We are his children — his sons and daughters.  When we try to define ourselves, far too often we leave God out of the picture, thus wandering about life, moving from one thing to another.  Lent is a time for us to clarify the picture.

And so we are called to take a step back and go out to our desert — a place of quiet, free from the distractions that bombard us.  And in that moment, we come face to face with the struggle that is ours — are we only people of this world, or are we people living in this world who are called to something greater — eternal life with God?   We all have to answer this question.

The answer is found in coming to see who we are: children of a God who loves us beyond measure — even in our brokenness.  When we acknowledge this fact, then the graces of God open up before us, and we allow God to become part of our life. Happy Lent.

Fr. John Blazek, C.S.C.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019


Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,

—Joel 2:12-13

Every year, this section from the book of Joel is the first scripture that is read at the Ash Wednesday service. Next to getting my forehead smudged, it is definitely my favorite part.

I like the words, “even now” most of all. If that were the only scripture read during the service, I would be satisfied. The lector could just get up and say, “Even Now!” and then sit down.

“Even now” suggests to me that it really doesn’t matter where you have been, how far you have strayed, or how ambivalent you have been about your relationship with God, you can still start again—even now. It suggests to me that God is not really hanging out in the past wishing that things had been different. God isn’t hanging out in the future either, awaiting your arrival. God is just in the Now calling for you to begin again.

And then the verses present us with a real challenge for what we are supposed to be doing in the Now. Sure, getting your forehead smudged and going to church and fasting are all great—but those really aren’t what God is looking for. Instead, there is that weird phrase “rend your hearts.” So, instead of tearing your clothing as a sign of repentance, you are supposed to tear open your heart. That’s a pretty graphic description, don’t you think?

The point is, you can do a lot of activity that shows you are religious, but what is going on inside of you? If I tore open my heart, what might I find in there? Is it filled with anxiety, envy, impatience, ego, and anger? What does it feel like to store all of that in my heart? If I tore my heart open and let go of all that trash, what might God be able to fill it up with?

Ted Steiner
Campus Minister


March 22
12:00 PM
Friday March 22, 12:00pm
Enterprise Development Center
E.g., 03/22/19
E.g., 03/22/19