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Deacon Kevin’s Reflections on the Third Sunday of Lent

From Exodus, we hear the Ten Commandments being shared with the Israelites for the first time. It was the first set of formal rules given the Chosen People by their God. Those “rules” for acceptable behavior between God and His people are as true today as they were when first handed down. These commandments should guide our decisions and indeed our lives.

In our Gospel, Jesus chases the merchants and the money-changers from the temple. Jesus was outraged that the temple was being used as a marketplace where people could buy things to offer to God. Jesus compares His body to the temple, stating that His temple would be destroyed and rebuilt in three days.

What about our temple? Our body is also a temple. Our soul, which gives us life, gives our body sacred character. We live our lives to give glory, praise, and honor to our God. Is our body and our mind the temple it should be? Do we have merchants or money-changers in the form of addictive behaviors, bad habits, or grudges against people? Now is the time to clean out your temple!

Go to confession to ‘clean out’ your soul and get into right relationship with God. Also take care of your body: lose weight, stop smoking, get enough rest, and exercise. Be a good caretaker of your temple in preparation of the Easter celebration.

Verbum’s $5 Million High School Curriculum Giveaway!

This guest post was written by Robert Klesko, Catholic Educational Resources Product Manager.

Our mission at Verbum is to provide the best tools for the study of the Catholic faith, and we want to do something tangible to really reach out and help people.

Our latest effort is aimed at Catholic high schools. Last year, we began development on a high school theology curriculum, with courses and teaching resources based on the USCCB Curriculum Framework.

We want incoming freshman in schools with a 1-1 technology program to have the best in Catholic educational software for their faith formation.

We are confident our product will be a game-changer in Catholic education. And, we’re willing to put our money where our mouth is—$5 million dollars’ worth!

That’s right: we’re giving away up to $5 million of our high school curriculum.

All a school has to do is contact us for an application and, if accepted, pay a $2,500 fee for intensive faculty training. Pretty simple!

We genuinely care about Catholic education and we want young people using our software to gain a deeper understanding of their faith—so we’re giving it away!

Spread the word! Tell your friends! Post us on Facebook! Go to: for more and to for details about our grant program.

Spanish Libraries Are Here!

Verbum’s Spanish libraries are now available! We’ve created dozens of Spanish-language resources and bundled them into two brand-new libraries. With steep bundling discounts, these libraries are the most affordable way to get the best Catholic resources in Spanish!

Spanish Libraries share image

There are two libraries to choose from:

Verbum Esencial

Print value: $1,228.19

Your price: $144.95

Verbum Esencial includes over 100 Spanish-language resources. With Bibles, commentaries, Church documents, and more, this library is perfect for the Spanish speaker seeking to study the Faith.

Verbum Esencial Bilingüe

Print value: $4,351.88

Your price: $399.95

Verbum Esencial Bilingüe includes over 300 resources in both English and Spanish. With an expanded selection of Bibles, commentaries, and other multilingual resources, this library is ideal for those studying or shepherding in both Spanish and English.

For more information on Spanish resources from Verbum, be sure to subscribe to our Spanish-language email lists!

Deacon Kevin’s Reflections on the Second Sunday of Lent

In the First Reading this Sunday, Abraham is asked by God to sacrifice his son. Obedient and faithful, Abraham accepted God’s test. Isaac followed his father’s instructions, carrying the wood of his death to the hilltop, and willingly lying upon the wood to be sacrificed. At the last moment, the angel stopped the sacrifice.

God would not permit this sacrifice, for only God is willing to sacrifice His Son. Jesus completes the sacrifice begun by Abraham and Isaac. Only one human sacrifice on the wood is need for the salvation of souls; only one Son would die for the sins of man.

The psalm calls us to faithfulness, and the second reading reminds us that God is on our side, even when we are “greatly afflicted” (Psalm 116:10). In the Second Reading, St. Paul reminds us that Jesus “intercedes for us” at “the right hand of God” (Rom 8:34).

In Mark’s story of the Transfiguration, the clothes Jesus is wearing become as white as light. Jesus speaks with two prominent Old Testament figures the apostles immediately recognize: Moses, representing the law, and Elijah, representing the prophets. In this vivid scene on Mount Tabor, the Old Testament meets the New Testament; the law and the prophets are one in Jesus. God Himself affirms the image the apostles see: Jesus is the Son of God.

During Lent, we are called by our prayer and abstinence to become transformed into the image of Christ. At our baptism, we were presented with a white garment demonstrating our participation in Christ’s life. We are called to holiness, so that we may bring that garment unstained into the everlasting life of the Kingdom.

Let us be the voice of the Son of Man in our words and actions. Let us give God praise and glory as we demonstrate our good works in our homes, our places of work, and our communities.

I encourage you to take some time out of your busy life this Lent. Take a brief rest and reflect on the power of God in your life. We can come to know our God better through scripture and prayer during these important forty days.

May our Lenten journey be blessed!


The Transfiguration by Pietro Perugino, 1498.

Lenten Moments

This post comes from the CSSI study, Lent: The Road to Redemption.

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Fasting involves refraining for a time from the satisfaction of human needs, especially the needs for food and drink, as an expression of interior penance. This spiritual practice is a means of decreasing our selfishness while increasing our dependence upon God’s fatherly provision.

The only days on which Catholic adults (until the age of 60) are required to fast are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals, which, if added together, would not exceed the main meal in quantity. Snacks and meat are also prohibited on those days.

In fact, penance is an integral part of the Christian life. Fasting is a traditional, Biblically-based practice strongly encouraged by the Church (see Catechism, no. 1434). Further, all Catholics fast for at least one hour before receiving Our Lord, the “Bread of Life,” in Holy Communion.

Catholics in the United States are required to abstain from eating meat not only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, but also on all other Fridays during Lent. This explains all the Lenten “Soup and Stations Nights,” fish fries, and cheese enchilada sales!

May these and other Lenten observances of our own choosing bring home to us the Gospel truth that we do not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Mt. 4:4).

Discuss fasting, the daily readings, and more in the Verbum Faithlife group!

Deacon Kevin’s Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent

Temptation. How many times have we been tempted in our lives? How many times has evil triumphed? Mark’s gospel states that Jesus was tempted only once by Satan, and that Jesus had the angels to take care of Him.

I know those acting on the Devil’s behalf have tempted us. We are also tempted to do wrong by ideas and influences of society. We often believe that doing “this one little thing wrong” won’t do any harm—but it does! When we fall prey to temptation, we are chipping away at our relationship with God. The little temptations we don’t resist weaken our relationship with God. These little things aren’t really so little: small sins build up, affecting our relationship with God to the point that we might feel we don’t need God in our lives, we stop coming to church, or we start thinking that we are the masters of our own destinies.

We pray in the Our Father, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” During this Lenten season, we should focus on our actions and avoid the near temptation of sin. We should strive to improve our relationship with God and with our family and friends. We should endeavor to bring Christ into every relationship and every encounter with every person we see. When we think our sufferings have become too much to bear, I would remind us all to take a look at the crucifix.

As we begin this solemn season, I ask you to reflect on your relationship with God, examine what obstacles lie in the way, and seek the peace and comfort that the Sacrament of Reconciliation can bring.

God loves each of us more than we can imagine. A little sacrifice during Lent shows our love for God. I pray that we use this Lent wisely as we prepare to celebrate in the joy of Easter.

Ash Wednesday: The Lenten Journey Begins

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, and thus the start of our Lenten Journey!

As you begin fasting, observing penances, or taking on new spiritual disciplines, consider joining the Verbum Lenten Journey. Hundreds of faithful Catholics are banding together for study, prayer, and discussion.

Learn about this season with weekly “Lenten Moment” emails. Study the Sunday readings with Lent: The Road to Redemption (now 50% off!). Share notes, questions, and responses with other Verbum users. Whatever you’re hoping to get out of Lent, Verbum is here to help.

Learn more and sign up at!

Lenten Journey—How to Study in Community

This Lent, we will be growing in community by studying CSSI’s Lent: the Road to Redemption in the Verbum Faithlife group. If you don’t have Verbum installed on all your devices, you can download it for free on your iPhone, iPad, Android Device, Mac or PC.

I’m going to focus on using the desktop application to get the most out of your study this Lent.

Once you’ve bought the resource, and installed the software, you’re technically ready to begin. However, I strongly recommend that you also buy a Bible and the Catechism. Or get more for your money with the Catechism Collection or one of our Verbum Libraries.

Once you’ve gotten the books you want, join the Verbum group on Faithlife and connect to the reading plan. You can read more about navigating Faithlife here. Click over to the documents tab, and hover over the “Lent: the Road to Redemption Reading Plan” document. Then click: Actions > Connect.


Now that you’re connected to the reading plan, your weekly reading assignment will show up in the sidebar of the Faithlife group, and in the sidebar of Verbum’s “Home Page” in the software. Let’s jump into the software and explore some more.

I’ve made each reading due at the end of the associated week of Lent, but I encourage you to pick a day each week that works best for you and do your reading much earlier—maybe even on the Sunday that provides each week’s readings. To jump into the readings, simply click on the current week of Lent under “Today’s Readings” in the sidebar. You may have to scroll down to see it.


Initially, this just looks like a digital book, but there’s a lot more going on under the surface.

In the Visual Filters menu, make sure the checkbox next to “Verbum” under “Community Notes” is checked. This will ensure you can see what other people have posted in the resource. This option will not appear if there are no community notes in the open resource.


You’ll want to make sure this option is checked in your Bible and Catechism, too. I’ve posted a few notes in the first sections of each resource so you can make sure they work. Look for my notes in the Lent Week 1 Introduction, Mark 1:15, and CCC 2191 – all referenced early in the study.

If you click on a note, you will see it open in a sidebar, and it’s easy to respond by clicking “reply,” and typing in the box. You can also affirm posts with a click. Try it out. Affirm or comment on my post on Mark 1:15.

If you want to post your own new note, simply highlight the section you’re commenting on, and right click. In the lower left, select “Add community note.”


Now be wary here: the community notes panel defaults to sharing with “My Faithlife,” so you’ll want to be sure to select the “Verbum” group before typing your community note.

SetMyFaithlifetoVerbum1That’s the fundamental interaction with this study. As you read through the CSSI text and the associated Bible verses, share your thoughts or ask your questions, and respond to other people’s posts. As others read through, they will find your comments, and dialogue with you. This is why I encourage you to do the reading early in the week — your comments will be there for others to see, and there will be more time for richer discussion.

If you own the Catechism, you can read the “Catechism Connections” right in the software and continue the dialogue there.

Finally, we will be hosting larger discussions (less directly connected to the text) in the Discussions tab. We’ve already posted the first topic (if you didn’t know it was available, you may want to adjust your notification preferences).

Now go try it out.

  1. Join the group
  2. Buy the book
  3. Connect to the reading plan
  4. Respond to a community note
  5. Post your own note

And if you have any questions, share them in the Verbum group. We’ll all learn and grow together. See you in the discussion threads!

C. S. Lewis at the Doors of Ecumenism

This guest post is by Brandon Rappuhn, Faithlife Live Product Strategist.

A number of years back, Catholic television station EWTN ran a series called Catholic Authors, hosted by Fr. John C. McCloskey III. Interestingly, alongside such Catholic writers as Flannery O’Connor and Hilaire Belloc, they aired an episode on C.S. Lewis, an Anglican who was quite passionate about not being Catholic.

Lewis is widely appreciated in Catholic literary circles. Numerous Catholic publications, especially from Ignatius Press, investigate Lewis’ theological leanings from a Catholic perspective. Why is this?

In the twenty-first century, Lewis’ writings are still drawing people into the Christian faith. What we really need to ask, then, is how does C.S. Lewis the Anglican facilitate discussion between Christians of all denominations?

Mere Christianity, one of the best-selling and most enduring works of Christian apologetics, provides an interesting common ground for all Christians. In the book, Lewis discusses the essential theological tenets of Christianity—such as faith, the Trinity, sin, and redemption—but he intentionally omits aspects of faith that might be objectionable to various denominations, such as justification and the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the preface to Mere Christianity, Lewis states,

The reader should be warned that I offer no help to anyone who is hesitating between two Christian ‘denominations.’ You will not learn from me whether you ought to become an Anglican, a Methodist, a Presbyterian, or a Roman Catholic. This omission is intentional (even in the list I have just given the order is alphabetical).(viii)

Immediately, passionate Christians of any denomination might shudder, thinking Lewis might be indicating a sort of relativism or postmodernism. But here Lewis isn’t proposing a new denomination or watering down existing theologies. What he actually does is provide a far more ecumenical approach: “It is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms,” Lewis states. “If I can bring anyone into that hall I shall have done what I attempted. But it is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in” (xv).

Lewis’ approach to interreligious dialogue is similar to that of the Catholic Church, stated in the Vatican II document Declaration of Religious Freedom:

Truth . . . is to be sought after in a manner proper to the dignity of the human person and his social nature. The inquiry is to be free, carried on with the aid of teaching or instruction, communication and dialogue, in the course of which men explain to one another the truth they have discovered, or think they have discovered, in order thus to assist one another in the quest for truth. (14)

In Mere Christianity, Lewis allows for a common approach to readers of all Christian denominations, articulating what we share rather than what divides us. It is the hallway where we make that free inquiry and discuss the things we love most about our faith without being drawn into arguments about differences. We can discuss what we have in common on equal terms without dropping ultimatums about faith and dogma that set walls between passionate hearts. We can invite others to look inside our room, while glancing down the hall to see what other rooms look like.

Predating Vatican II, but in its spirit, Lewis states, “When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall. If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them” (xvi). The genius of Lewis was that he made it possible for Christians from every denomination to celebrate all that we hold in common.

Get 30% off when you pre-order the C. S. Lewis Collection!


The Real St. Valentine

Tired of seeing hearts and flowers everywhere?

If the holiday clichés of buying candy and flowers don’t hold much meaning for you, celebrate the real St. Valentine, who was a third-century Christian, martyred in Rome on February 14 and buried near the Milvian bridge. Beyond this, not much is known for sure about his life and martyrdom, but the older traditional stories of his martyrdom have no connection with romance. Instead, they reflect the courage of one who was willing to die for his faith in Jesus. St. Valentine believed, as St. Paul says, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21).

St. Valentine was a holy priest in Rome, who, with St Marius and his family, assisted the martyrs in the persecution under Claudius II. He was apprehended, and sent by the emperor to the prefect of Rome, who, on finding all his promises to make him renounce his faith ineffectual, commanded him to be beaten with clubs, and afterward to be beheaded. Valentine was executed on the 14th of February, about the year 270 (Pictorial Lives of the Saints 93-94).


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