3Rd sunday of lent: SACRIFICE AND PENANCE ignition talk

This week we turn our minds and our hearts toward SACRIFICE AND PENANCE! This can be a daunting topic that we can wrestle with, but Fr. Steven Beatty, of the Diocese of Belleville, provides us with a framework through which we can understand that hardship and sacrifices can truly be opportunities to love God.


  • Ponder on the fact that the world is imperfect because He chooses to involve us and work with us in life. Viewed from this standpoint can you see the value that God places on your life?
  • Christ wants to take joy in walking through life with us – He desires to use even our sufferings to bring about redemption JUST like He did through His own sufferings on the cross.
  • Reflect on the beauty and the profound truth that St. Paul attests to in saying: “I am making up in my own body what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ” – Col 1:24. How does this reality change how you can view, approach, and even accept hardship in your own life.
  • What is Jesus asking you to sacrifice? Are you willing to open your heart to listen to what God has in store for you even if it is hard?
  • Can you see that the chance to strive and to sacrifice is part of the gift that God gives to us?
  • Consider that sacrifice is making something Holy by giving it back to God – that we don’t only offer up difficulties but that we are called to offer up good things as well!
  • True heroes show their strength in sacrifice. Take some time to reflect on the fact that God didn’t come to fix our world just by word, but by partaking in the hardship and sacrificing Himself.
  • Fr. Steven shared some pitfalls to choosing Lenten penances and some suggestions for choosing good Lenten penances. How do these fit or conflict with your current penance? How might you alter or adjust your penance to better reflect the true spirit of sacrifice?


Deacon James Linkenheld of the Diocese of the Rockford shares his thoughts on penances in our everyday lives.


  • Pause for a brief moment to recall once again the purpose of Lent and of this retreat: To dive deeper into Our Lord’s open heart!
  • Have you been aware of how God is working in and through your Lenten penances? Have you actually allowed God to work through them?
  • What penances are present in your life that you didn’t plan on and that you might not have asked for yourself? How is Christ seeking and encountering you in and through them?
  • How is God calling you to grow in your specific circumstances? How is God inviting you to draw upon His strength in the midst of these everyday things?
  • Ponder this thought: “Don’t let any go fruitless.” Have you allowed each and every hardship in your life to be handed over to God so that he can transform them?
  • Honestly ask yourself: “How have I grown so far through this Lent?” Take stock of if the things you are doing are drawing you closer to God: If they are keep going (this doesn’t mean that you have to be doing the perfectly – just making a heartfelt effort) but if they aren’t leading you closer to Christ perhaps it is time to prayerful ask God what else He may be asking you to do to draw closer to Him.


Rita VanWassenhove shares her personal story about embracing the circumstances of life and turning them over to the Lord as a beautiful and willing surrender and sacrifice.


  • In the midst of your own struggles and hardships, do you actively seek to reach out to others to help them in their own needs? What could you concretely do to help someone who may be very in need of receiving some compassion?
  • Do you ever think to yourself in the midst of everything: “This isn’t fair?” Sometimes life isn’t fair – and in these moments we need to surrender and to turn it over to the Lord. Are you willing to try this?
  • The key to continuing in the face of hardship is to daily surrender your will and your life over to the care of God. Can you try to pray the words of Jesus: “Father, into your hand I commend my Spirit” and to pray “I offer myself as a sacrifice. God I offer myself as a living sacrifice, lift me with you, let me act as your body here on earth.”
  • Have you ever considered praying and asking God if it is His will to take someone’s pain upon yourself as an offering? Know that if you do this God will only allow it if He knows that it is for your good.
  • What concrete thing do you think God may be asking you to sacrifice as a means of growth? Can you ask Him for the courage to step forward and do that thing?


Enjoy the opportunity to encounter God through today’s Wednesday “Fuel Break.” A Fuel Break is a strip of land in the middle of a forest that is cleared out in order to control a burn in the case of a wildfire. Every Wednesday you can enjoy a “Fuel Break” Guided Meditation. Rather than giving you more to think about and process, we’ll be shifting gears so that you can clear your mind and enter into a time of prayer with God. We pray that these encounters with the Lord will help control and focus the burn that God is enkindling in your heart.

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Today’s Spark Talk for the Catching fire retreat is presented by Kyle Ackman, who shares his insights into what sacrifice looks like as a husband and father.


  • How could it change your outlook on life (and possibly being kind to yourself) by viewing yourself as a disciple of Christ “In Training?”
  • Can I try to embrace the trials that I haven’t “signed up for” like St. Joseph? Try spending a few moments reflecting on his scenario and the love that enabled Him to sacrifice and bring great good from difficulty.
  • Consider the following: “Sacrifice is a prerequisite for growth. You cannot be who you used to be and who you are going to be at the same time.” – Inky Johnson. As daunting as it may be, consider how the benefits of the growth you are seeking far outweigh whatever it is that you individually are being called by God to sacrifice.
  • Think about how “You don’t HAVE to commit to be better, but you GET to commit to be better.” Keeping this in mind can help you to want to change and to take ownership and give you self-confidence rather than feeling cornered into having to change.
  • Reflect upon the following Prayer: “God thank you for Mercy, you desire that no one perishes but that we all come to Christ. Thank you for the many opportunities that you have given me to make the right choice. Thank you for not ending that count before I came to my senses.” How does understanding and keeping in mind that God believes in you and that He gives you more chances because He knows you can succeed change your desire to give your all?
  • St Paul says that: “To live is Christ and to die is gain” – Philippians 1:21 In what ways am I being called to put the needs of others before my own? How can I concretely do this today?


Karen Chamberlin gives heartfelt suggestions about how to deepen your faith life by offering sacrifices and penances to God.


  • How do you respond when what God puts on your plate is truly the LAST thing that you would want? Are you willing to let God stretch you? Are you willing to do what God needs you to do rather than what you want to do?
  • Have you asked yourself yet this Lent: “What am I going to do to to work on my relationship with the Lord?” Have you focused on relationship this Lent?
  • Can you designate a specific time each day to pray? Perhaps this idea seems daunting because of the sacrifice that it may involve – but hopefully this week you have come to see the beauty and fruit of sacrifice.
  • When was the last time I took advantage of the sacrament of reconciliation? Am I willing to take this step to make my soul shine more beautifully so that my life can radiate God’s love?
  • Just be willing to work on things! Realize that even in the smallest things, exchanging one bad habit for a good one is rewarding!


Today Krista Ballard shares about learning the meaning of sacrifice through witnessing the loving actions of another.


  • It is a beautiful thing to recognize and affirm others for their gifts, at the very same time it is important to know that God has given you your own gifts and to use what you’ve been given yourself for the good of others. What gifts do you see in others that you can affirm them for? Are you willing to share the gifts that you have so that you can impact others like Krista has through sharing her testimony?
  • Are there people in your life who rely on human connection and other’s reaching out to them? Have you made an effort to make a difference in their lives? Are you willing to sacrifice some of your time to impact them and make them feel loved?
  • True sacrifice often happens day by day, minute by minute, what current circumstances are present in your life that you might not think about as sacrifice, that may be capable of being offered up consciously to God as a loving sacrifice to enable both you and those whom you serve to grow closer to Him?
  • Reflect upon the following: “It’s not always the events we have been directly involved in that affect us the most.” -Francois Mauriac What have you seen or heard that has taught you the meaning of sacrifice? Who has inspired you and how can you strive to follow in their footsteps?