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The Alphabet of Lent – Letter S

S for Signs

Signs are part of communication.
We wave our hand as we leave someone.
We shake our head to refuse something.
We wink to a word spoken in jest.
We open wide our eyes in surprise.
We frown to show disapproval.

All these signs are part of what we call body language.

But there are other signs –
those displayed in an attitude expressing a conviction, or a decision.
In anger, we suddenly leave a meeting with colleagues.
Or, we go out of a room banging the door.

Occasionally, Jesus used such signs in relation to people around.

To the Pharisees who asked him precisely for a sign coming from heaven, Jesus replied that they would not get such a sign; he left them there and got back into the boat (Mark 8:13).
Another very telling example is that showing Jesus chasing the traders in the Temple (Matthew 21:12-13).
There are other signs that we could describe as symbolic –
perhaps more difficult to interpret, they may have a deep meaning.

The gospel of John proposes a typical scene which opens up an unexpected perspective.
It is that of the Wedding of Cana (John 2:1-11).
The narrative is well known where we see Jesus who, on the request of his mother, will change water into wine for the feast.
The gospel writer uses precisely this word: “This was the first of the signs given by Jesus”.

Of course, it was a miracle, and the other gospel writers will use this word rather than the one used by John: a ‘sign’.

This sign announces what Jesus will be for us: the presence of God among us to come to our aid.
God sharing our daily life – as it is taking place in a wedding celebration – to reveal his presence to us.

And all the signs that he gives us from day to day…
Do we know how to recognize them, and discover their message?…

The period of Lent is a good time to get used to doing this…


Note: In the following video (in French), Nadia Labrecque continues to reflect on this sur scene of the Wedding of Cana :


Source: Image: (Jorge Bermudez)       The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

The Alphabet of Lent – Introduction


                                  LENT – Introduction                                       



                                    LENT is a special time…




                                                                                                       L eaving aside the non-essentials

                                                                                                       E ntering the depths of ourselves

                                                                                                       N either afraid nor impatient

                                                                                                       T o allow God to reach us where we are . . .


Let us take time…

Let us give God time…

And let us marvel at the outcome!…


During this period of Lent, a daily reflection will appear from Monday to Friday in the series entitled The Alphabet of Lent. The texts will focus on themes taken from the gospel, every day according to a letter of the alphabet.

The texts will be published in French and in English on the website

In the following sections: À bien y penser (French text) et Anglophones, anglophiles (English text).

The reflections on the readings of the Sunday celebrations will be available on Saturday.

The Facebook page of the site will also offer the presentations.


Note: The first reflection will appear on February 15.


Source: Images:    (Elisabeth Baltadjieva,   Miniperde)


Mardi Gras – 21 February 2023

Mardi Gras is a Christian holiday and popular cultural phenomenon that dates back thousands of years to pagan spring and fertility rites. Also known as Carnival or Carnaval, it’s celebrated in many countries around the world—mainly those with large Roman Catholic populations—on the day before the religious season of Lent begins. Brazil, Venice and New Orleans play host to some of the holiday’s most famous public festivities, drawing thousands of tourists and revelers every year.

When Is Mardi Gras?

Mardi Gras is traditionally celebrated on “Fat Tuesday,” the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent.  In many areas, however, Mardi Gras has evolved into a week-long festival.

Mardi Gras 2023 will fall on Tuesday, February 21. Following two years of canceled events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, celebrations in New Orleans resumed in 2022.

What Is Mardi Gras?

Mardi Gras is a tradition that dates back thousands of years to pagan celebrations of spring and fertility, including the raucous Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia.

When Christianity arrived in Rome, religious leaders decided to incorporate these popular local traditions into the new faith, an easier task than abolishing them altogether. As a result, the excess and debauchery of the Mardi Gras season became a prelude to Lent, the 40 days of fasting and penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.

Along with Christianity, Mardi Gras spread from Rome to other European countries, including France, Germany, Spain and England.

What Does Mardi Gras Mean?

Mardi is the French word for Tuesday, and gras means “fat.” In France, the day before Ash Wednesday came to be known as Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday.”

Traditionally, in the days leading up to Lent, merrymakers would binge on all the rich, fatty foods—meat, eggs, milk, lard and cheese—that remained in their homes, in anticipation of several weeks of eating only fish and different types of fasting.

The word carnival, another common name for the pre-Lenten festivities, also derives from this feasting tradition: in Medieval Latin, carnelevarium means to take away or remove meat, from the Latin carnem for meat.


Source: Text & Image:      2è image: Freepik

1st Sunday of Lent, Year C – 2022

Usually, our reflection is on a theme taken from one of the readings.
However, today we will focus our attention on the Psalm of today’s celebration, Psalm 91.

This Sunday opens the period of Lent and we start today our Lenten pilgrimage.
A pilgrimage, a journey to a destination, to a goal that we plan to attain.
We are not setting on a leisurely walk, we are moving intending to reach a goal.

To do so, many of us are considering what we will do to come to our destination.
What if we changed the perspective?
What if we no longer kept our attention on what WE will do
but rather saw – at long last, perhaps – what GOD is ready to do for us?

In Psalm 91, the author lists what he is convinced God will do for the person who acknowledges him as God.
If we trust him and rely on him, God will guard us from harm, he will protect us from danger of all kinds.

Suddenly, the Psalmist is… interrupted, as if God cuts him short!
It seems that God wants to speak for himself!
We then hear these amazing words:

“Because he/she loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him/her;
I will protect him/
her, for he/she acknowledges my name.
she will call on me, and I will answer him/her;
I will be with him/
her in trouble,

I will deliver him/her and honor him/her.”   (Ps.91:14-15)
We often think that we should make promises to God,
but here it is God himself who makes these wonderful promises to us.
God commits himself, he speaks words that are really astonishing.
Not only will he rescue and protect us, he will be with us in our troubles and deliver us.

Have you ever thought that God would… honor you?
This is how he concludes his promise – he will honor us!
If we allow ourselves to be inspired by these words,
a quiet serenity will be ours as we progress on the Lenten journey.

Note: Another reflection on a different theme is available in French at:


Source: Image: flickr

1st Sunday of Lent, Year B – 2021

We have entered a new period of what is called the liturgical year.
We are now in the Season of Lent – a season rich in meaning.

In the gospel text of this 1st Sunday (Mk.1:13-15), we hear Jesus tell us:
“The time has come.” 
The time of what? The time for what?
Jesus answers:
“The kingdom of God has come near.”
We are often told to turn to God, to go to him, to be near him.
We are reminded that this Lenten period is meant for that.

What if we changed the perspective, turn it right around to…
allow God to come near to us?…
What if… Lent was the time to… allow God to come near to us?…

This is what he wanted from the very beginning when he created human beings.
He wanted to live in a relationship of proximity, of intimacy with us –
this is the meaning of the 1st reading where we see God making a special alliance with his people (Gn.9:8-15).

A time to allow God to come near to us so that he may pour into our lives all that he wants to bless us with!
Of course, we must believe it, believe HIM.
Of course, we must ‘repent’ – this is part of the process of freeing some space in us so as to be able to receive all that he is offering!

What an offering that is!


Note: Another reflection on a different theme is available in French at:


Source: Image: Facebook

4th Sunday of Lent, Year C – 2019

“When he came do his senses…”  (Lk.15:11-32)

Herding pigs, for a Jew, was a shameful occupation.
To a Jew faithful to the prescriptions of the Law, these animals were considered ‘impure’.
And there he was, minding pigs for the owner who did not even give him a share of the food the pigs were eating.
Could he go any lower?

He had left with his small fortune thinking it would last much longer.
But he had enjoyed it to the full until… it was all spent – nothing left even to survive.
He was hungry and there was a famine in the country so not much food around
let alone sympathy for someone like him!

Illusion, denial, escapism, – all the modern vocabulary could apply.
He needed to real-ize what he had done, what he had become, to see himself for real!
He had not much choice but to come out of his dream-like adventure and face his present situation.

It is somehow surprising that as he ‘comes to his senses’, he thinks first of all
of the fair salary and the privileged condition of the workmen employed by his father.
He remembers how life could be good at home if he had been willing to notice it.
But he seems still unaware of where this goodness came from.

He has yet to discover, to understand something of his father’s love.
For this, he must set on the return journey.
He has known need and regret, he must still experience the tenderness and forgiveness of his father.

This period of Lent gives us the same opportunity of a return journey…
if only we, too, ‘come to our senses.’
Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at:
And, in a short video, France Doucet shares with us her insight into this parable at:

One can also look at:

Source: Image:

Ash Wednesday, Year C – 2019

Who knows?”  
We often hear this expression in different contexts.
It is sometimes used when inquiring about a possible event.
One may wonder about the outcome of a given project and asks someone about it.
The answer comes: ‘Who knows?’ 
A person may inquire about the intention of a colleague regarding a possible decision.
The same answer is given: ‘Who knows?’ 
These words imply that there are a number of possible outcomes.
The expression supposes that different conclusions may be reached, or choices made.
In other words: the situation is, as we say, ‘wide open’ – some change may happen in the course of time.

It is interesting to see these words used by the prophet Joel speaking about… GOD!
In the 1st reading (Joel 2:12-18), we hear him say:
Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing…”

As if God could change his mind!
We have been taught that it is not so, and yet…

Perhaps we need to switch things around, look at another angle of the situation –
the situation of… our relationship with God…

If WE change, if we return to him as he asks us to do…
Who knows?’ we may come to see him as he really is:
“gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love…”

Perhaps this is what Lent is all about: OUR changing so we may see God as he is…
as he wants to be for us: always ready to “leave behind a blessing…”

Note: Another reflection is available on a different theme in French at:


Source: Image: Pilgrim at the Crossroads –



4th Sunday of Lent, Year B

When told that something is free, or at a big discount, some people will rush to benefit from the offer.
Others may be more suspicious wondering whether this is a genuine bargain or not.

Could it be that we react in a similar way when what is on offer is… from God?!
We, human beings, have sometimes this strange attitude of wanting to prove ourselves to God…
True, it has often been said to us that we must earn what we want.
We should make efforts, sacrifices, and gain merits!

It is definitely not Paul’s conviction which he shares with the first Christians of Ephesus.
He writes to them (2nd reading – Eph.2:4-10):

“God loved us with so much love that he was generous with his mercy…
It is through grace that you have been saved.”
And a few lines further in the text, Paul repeats it:
“It is by grace that you have been saved,
not by anything that you have done, but by a gift from God.”
Does this mean then that we have nothing to do, simply wait for God to pour his gifts in our lives?
If his blessings are a gift, then we need not strive to be better and do better…

We most certainly have something to do – something yes, simple, yet which we sometimes find difficult.
Our part is to DESIRE and to ACCEPT –
to DESIRE God’s intervention and to ACCEPT his action in our lives, in our very selves.
We are sometimes like the stubborn child, stubborn in our refusal to be guided by God’s Spirit –

  • guided in our options and choices,
  • guided in our plans and decisions,
  • guided in our activities and… our purposeful inaction…

We pretend that we can ‘handle it’, we can manage on our own.

The truth of the matter is that… we don’t do so well!
And all the while God offers his overabundant and generous gifts…
No wonder we struggle and end up dispirited.
God’s Spirit is awaiting our… desire and acceptance to work wonders in us, for us, through us!

Lent is a good time for such a discovery!

Note: Another reflection is available in French on a different theme at:

and a second short one at:

and a video on the gospel personnage of Nicodemus at:

Source: Images:   (handle it)

1st Sunday of Lent, Year B

The text of Mark relating the temptation of Jesus is much shorter than that of Matthew and Luke.
Notice that ‘temptation’ is printed in the singular because Mark does not give details about this experience of Jesus.

I find this short text (1st Sunday of Lent – Mk.1:12-15) of only 4 verses quite amazing.
4 verses and… 10 themes are mentioned:

  • Baptism of Jesus
  • the Spirit
  • the desert
  • Satan
  • wild beasts
  • angels
  • proclamation of the gospel
  • Kingdom of God
  • conversion
  • faith

It is as if the author wanted to give a detailed initiation to the Christian faith in this first chapter of the gospel text!

Personally, the image I choose is that of Jesus among the wild beasts and the angels.
A man – the one who was to call himself “the Son of Man” – between beasts and angels.
Respected by the first and served by the last!

It is, for me, a very good picture of the possible outcome of temptation
the experience of a person who proves to be a true human being, a genuine child of God.
One who has overcome his/her demons under different guises,
and is in communion with all of creation!

Some practice may be needed to reach this but… this is what Lent is for, no?

Source: Image: A Plethora of Ponderings


Ash Wednesday – Year B

Did you notice how often, in a single day, we close a door?
We go out of different places and, every time, we must close a door.
We leave some premises and, again, the same gesture is done: closing the door behind us.

In fact, this is the very action we are reminded of on this Ash Wednesday.
We are called to close the door – the door of our room, a personal, private area.
We are told:
“Go to your private room and, when you have shut the door,
pray to your Father who is in that secret place” (Mt.6:6).

This time, shutting the door is for a specific purpose: to PRAY!

Ash Wednesday opens up – literally – into Lent, this special liturgical season when we are invited to ‘go inside’ having left out what is not essential.
A lot of ‘things’ may be included in ‘what is not essential’.
This may vary for different people but for each one it may include a lot of superfluous items!
It is up to every one to make his or her list…

There are objects, situations, people that COULD be left out of our lives, others that SHOULD be taken out of our lives.
Not for the sole purpose of taking out but with the aim of FOCUSING!
FOCUSING and MEETING the one who is ever waiting for us: our Father.

Our houses are sometimes disappearing under the ‘clutter’ that we have slowly accumulated.
Under this untidy mess, some important objects and some helpful items may be hidden…

And the same ‘untidy mess’ may be also part of our “private room” – this special place, inward, where we are to meet God…
Some precious elements of life may be hidden, believed to have disappeared…
So, Lent may be the ideal time for… clearing the mess, freeing ourselves from the clutter!
And, rediscovering the most important, the essential!

It is obvious that as often as we close doors, as often too we open them.
So, yes, opening the door to God, and to those in need of our help, is very much part of Lent –
the other side of the coin, one could say.

Source: Images: YouTube;