Lenten Reflections

The following reflections are based on the readings given at Mass for each Sunday of Lent.

View: First Sunday Reflection; Second Sunday Reflection; Third Sunday Reflection; Fourth Sunday Reflection; Fifth Sunday Reflection; Palm Sunday Reflection; Easter Sunday Reflection.

Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent (21st February, 2021)
Readings: Genesis 9:8-15; Psalm 25:4-9; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:12-15.
See, I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature…” (Genesis 9:9-10)
Lent is a season of reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Easter. By observing the 40 days of Lent, Christians replicate Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert. Lent is marked by fasting, penance and giving alms.
During this long-pandemic-journey, we who are involved in the ministry to seafarers and fishers, may feel confused, tired and ponder: how can we support seafarers and fishers at this time? The pandemic is teaching us to be closer to our family members and neighbours; yet, due to protocols, we have to keep our physical distance.  
So how do we keep closer to seafarers and fishers aware that they are far away, sailing in the seven seas?
In today’s First reading God said: “See, I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature…” In this time of pandemic, it feels good to be reassured that God has established His covenant with us and with nature. We are not forgotten! Thus, we should not forget those who transport 90% of the goods in the world, or those who fish and make food from the sea available on our table. While the world has come to a standstill (planes have stopped, shops and offices have closed, people have stayed home), ships and fishing vessels have kept going. If the latter were to stop, the world would collapse.
As we continue our Lent sailing journey, the pandemic may trigger the temptation to give up, to neglect or to ignore God’s covenant. In these moments, we keep in mind “Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant” (Responsorial Psalm, Ps25).


This week’s reflection was provided by Fr. Paulo Prigol – Stella Maris, Manila
Prayer for First Sunday of Lent
Through our observance of Lent,
You correct our faults and raise our minds to You,
You help us grow in holiness, 
and offer us the reward of everlasting life
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
Reflection for the Second Sunday of Lent (28th February, 2021)
Readings: Genesis 22:1-2,9-18; Psalm 116:10,15-19; Romans 8:31-34; Mark 9:2-10
“This is my beloved Son; listen to him” (Mark 9:7)
In today’s Gospel, we read Mark’s account of the Transfiguration of Our Lord. It is a Gospel passage many of us are familiar with. This familiarity can sometimes dull our sense of awe and wonder at what happened.

Jesus is transfigured. He becomes radiant in the glory of God. Elijah and Moses appear, talking with Jesus. Then we hear the voice of God, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him”. What an incredible experience this must have been for Peter, James and John!

After this mountain top experience, Mark tells us that Peter, James and John looked around, but no longer saw anyone with them, but Jesus.

For many of us, the past year has been anything but a mountain top experience. It has been a struggle as we cope with separation from family, friends, children and grandchildren. Illness, death and bereavement have affected all of us in one form or another. The spectre of unemployment and financial hardship looms large for many.

What’s true for us is even more relevant for seafarers, fishers and their families.

Yet throughout all this Jesus, the Son of God, is with us, just as he was with Peter, James and John in today’s Gospel.

As we continue our Lenten sailing journey, let us remember that Our Lord sails with us. We are not alone. 

“And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad; even my body shall rest in safety. For you will not leave my soul among the dead, nor let your beloved know decay.
“You will show me the path of life, the fullness of joy in your presence, at your right-hand happiness for ever.”
(Psalm 15)
Prayer for Second Sunday of Lent
Heavenly Father:
we pray to You for those on the perilous ocean that You
will embrace them with your mighty protection and grant them
success in all their rightful undertakings. Grant them in all hours of
need to see that they have a God who remembers them, and grant them
grace in the hour of danger to commit their
souls into Your hands.
O Lord Jesus Christ, Who can rebuke the storm and bring it to silence, and
lay the roaring waves to rest, show them who call to You out of the deep that You
hear their prayer and will save them. And finally bring us all to the only safe port.
Reflection for the Third Sunday of Lent (7th March, 2021)
Readings: Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19:8-11; 1 Corinthians 1:22-25; John 2:13-25
 “Take these things away; you shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” (John 2:16)
The Gospel for the third Sunday of Lent is the familiar story of Jesus driving the traders out of the Temple.  Jesus arrives to find sellers and money changers in the Temple and expresses the frustration we have all experienced by driving them out.

During this period of lockdown, the sense of frustration in what we are allowed to do, and where, has affected us all.  So, despite the fact that it is Lent, we need to remember that we have been living through strange times, in a way just as the Jews and Gentiles were, as they were being shown a new way of being.  

Giving up something for Lent is a traditional way of marking the season along with alms-giving and prayer. However, giving something up can also be about remembering to be kind to one another and to not give up on our tolerance for one another, particularly during this pandemic when we are forced to be together more.

For seafarers, who are always more restricted in their movements, this might seem easier but as time progresses and their recharge time with their families moves further and further away, they suffer greatly.  In our being kind to one another, despite the restrictions, we can also offer this as a prayer to support seafarers who are suffering far more frustration than we are.

So, during this season of Lent, let us remember to give each other more forgiveness than ever and exercise tolerance in this difficult time.


This week’s reflection was provided by Patricia Ezra, Stella Maris GB
Prayer for Third Sunday of Lent
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, unity;
where there is doubt, faith,
where there is error, truth
where there is despair, hope;
where there is sadness, joy;
where there is darkness, light.Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.For it is giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is dying that we are born to eternal life.

(Attributed to St Francis of Assisi)
Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Lent (14th March, 2021)
Readings: 2 Chronicles 36: 14-16, 19-23; Psalm 137: 1-6; Ephesians 2:4-10; John 3:14-21.
 “We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he had meant us to live it.” (Eph. 2: 10)
The world seems to be in turmoil suffering under the uncertainty of Covid, lockdowns, illness, the loss of loved ones, and for seafarers, the uncertainty of when they will get back home to their families. With only a guess as to how the future will turn out and when we will return to stability in our lives. Yet today the Church tells us to REJOICE. Yes, today is REJOICE Sunday, or to give its Latin name, LAETARE Sunday. In the middle of the serious season of Lent, we are asked to take time to relax, get away from the anxiety, and look ahead with confidence.

We hear today Jesus explaining what His mission is all about and the promise being made to those who are willing to believe in Him. Jesus has been sent by the Father to save the world and to offer eternal life to everyone who believes in Him. That is the Good News that’s the reason to Rejoice. Why? Because he did it out of love for each one of us. It is a message of reassurance: we are to feel consoled by the message of His love for each of us.

In these days of turmoil, it may be difficult to feel consoled and to see this moment as a time to rejoice. Yet there are things to celebrate. At Stella Maris, we are delighted to see more seafarers finally being repatriated after being stranded abroad for many months. Just this week 90 seafarers from the small island nation of Kiribati who have been stuck in Hamburg since October are finally on their way back to their loved ones.

Talk to God about how you feel, do not hold back, let go of your fears and doubts; he wants to console you. Listen to what he might be wanting to tell you. Remember what St. Paul says in the second reading ‘We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning He had meant us to live it’. As to the future, it is not a guess for us, we have the certainty that is eternal life – what a gift.

So, Rejoice on this Mother’s Day. Crack open the Prosecco, have some chocolate, your future is guaranteed.

Reflection provided by Deacon Peter Barrigan, Tees and Hartlepool Regional Port Chaplain, Stella Maris
Prayer for Fourth Sunday of Lent
O Mary,
you always shine on our path
as a sign of salvation and of hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who at the cross took part in Jesus’ pain, keeping your faith firm.
You, Salvation of the Roman People,
know what we need,
and we are sure you will provide
so that, as in Cana of Galilee,
we may return to joy and to feasting
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform to the will of the Father
and to do as we are told by Jesus,
who has taken upon Himself our sufferings
and carried our sorrows
to lead us, through the cross,
to the joy of the resurrection. Amen.Under your protection, we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God. Do not disdain the entreaties of we who are in trial, but deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.

(Pope Francis’s Prayer to Mary During the COVID-19 Pandemic)
Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Lent (21st March, 2021)
Readings: Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51:3-4,12-15; Hebrews 5:7-9; John 12:20-33
 “Unless a wheat grain falls to the earth and dies, it remains only a single grain.” (John 12: 24)
Within the Gospel reading for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, Jesus reveals a beautiful parable, ‘Unless a wheat grain falls to the earth and dies, it remains only a single grain.’ So it is in dying that the grain yields a great harvest.  Jesus here foretells his own imminent death, the events of which we are about to witness in the great Christian celebration of Easter.  Jesus continues, ‘Anyone who loves his life will lose it; anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.’  Like the grain of wheat, this is our destiny also.  We often face torment in our lives but we are called by Jesus to live a life of Grace and Love – not always an easy calling.  To live life according to our faith is a tough commitment and can bring great challenges.

Consider how might this relate to the spiritual and practical life of a seafarer.  For each, the experience will be different, but one of the challenges of a life at sea is the sense of separation from home life, replaced by routine, endurance, monotony, danger, lack of sleep – all those particular sacrifices that seafarers must make.  There is a sense of “I’ve just got to get through this and I’ll be OK”. 

Now look again.  Jesus is calling us to far greater things.  “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honour whoever serves me.”  Christ is with each one of us whatever our place or condition in life.  For seafarers, the grain of wheat in the parable is as real in the engine room, the bridge, the galley or the foc’sle as it is with their families far removed.  It is in the face of all adversity confronting seafarers in life at sea that they are invited to bring to their mess mates the Grace and Charity which will bear much fruit.  This is the rich and abundant gift that Jesus has promised us.

Reflection provided by Charles Stuart, Regional Port Chaplain, Southampton and Southern Ports, Stella Maris
Prayer for Fifth Sunday of Lent
Glorious Patriarch Saint Joseph, whose power makes the impossible possible, come to my aid in these times of anguish and difficulty. Take under your protection the serious and troubling situations that I commend to you, that they may have a happy outcome. My beloved father, all my trust is in you. Let it not be said that I invoked you in vain, and since you can do everything with Jesus and Mary, show me that your goodness is as great as your power. Amen.

(From a 19th Century French prayer book of the Congregation of the Sisters of Jesus and Mary.)
Reflection for Palm Sunday (28th March, 2021)
Readings: Mark 11:1-10 or John 12:12-16 (Procession); Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 22: 8-9, 17-24; Philippians 2:6-1; Mark 14:1-15:47.
“Greater love no man has than he who lays down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
Today all over the world, Christians will be celebrating the great mystery of Christ’s love for us.

“Greater love no man has than he who lays down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) This is the week Christ lived out the truth of these words. Christ took on himself our sins and the sins of all the world.

In his account of the Passion, Mark stresses the crude trial and shocking details of Jesus’ suffering. He has Jesus die in total isolation – abandoned by his disciples, mocked by his enemies, scoffed by one who hung with him.

What was on Jesus’ mind as he travelled to Jerusalem?

He knew that many of the people who were waving palms to salute him would shortly turn on him. Yet He also knew that He was doing the Father’s will.  So, with courage and confidence in God the Father, He moved forward to Jerusalem.

Jesus did not suffer to wipe out suffering from our lives but to teach us how to suffer, to teach us that suffering will always accompany true love; and therefore, anyone who follows Him must carry his daily cross.

Jesus teaches us about the supremacy of love and of the qualities that exemplify it; namely, that love is stronger than violence, that humility is stronger than pride, that kindness is stronger than anger, that gentleness is stronger than rudeness.

We all have a Jerusalem ahead of us. For us it is not a city, but it might be an illness, a change in our life, a problem, challenge or perhaps uncertainty ahead of us. Jesus shows us how to move toward our Jerusalem.

As with Jesus, many people who say they will be with us probably will not be. And at various times we can all feel isolated. Our port chaplains come across many seafarers and fishers who have a Jerusalem ahead of them and this too can come in many ways. So often they meet crews who have been working in poor conditions including low wages, cramped living quarters, slavery and human trafficking and extended contracts. This means sometimes they are far from home even when they want to return to their families.

Our port chaplains try and become instruments of Christ and carry out the mission of the Church. They do this through practical and spiritual care. Our chaplains encourage seafarers and fishers to move forward, facing whatever lies ahead, knowing that Jesus has been there before.

As we begin this Holy Week, which recalls the great events of our redemption, let us ask the Lord to give us the grace and the strength to face whatever is ahead of us. Jesus shows that the cross, whatever form it takes in our life, can lead to salvation and new life.

Please pray for seafarers today and protect yourselves and protect Christ in your lives.

Reflection provided by Deacon Joe O Donnell, Stella Maris Senior Area Port Chaplain, Scotland & Northern Ireland
Prayer for Palm Sunday
All-powerful Father,
God of mercy,
look kindly on us in our suffering.
Ease our burden and make our faith strong,
that we may always have confidence and trust
in your fatherly care.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Reflection for Easter Sunday (4th April, 2021)
Readings: Acts 10:34, 37-43; Psalm 118: 1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; John 20:1-9 or Mark 16:1-7.
Our Lenten journey of penance and sacrifices is over and after the Holy Week in which we remembered the passion and death of Jesus, we can celebrate His resurrection and proclaim to the world: the Lord is risen!  

The main actors of the Easter gospel are Mary Magdalene, Peter and the “disciple who Jesus loved.” Since this disciple has not been named, we can easily identify ourselves with him. Each one of us during this Easter Sunday is the “disciple whom Jesus loves.”  

Mary, early in the morning, goes to the tomb and although it is dark sees that the stone has been removed. She quickly runs and tells the others what she has seen: an empty tomb. She returns to the tomb with Peter and the “disciple who Jesus loved.”  

The “disciple who Jesus loved” and Peter also see an empty tomb, but they see more than their physical eyes. They see and they believe. God opened the eyes of faith, and the mystery of the resurrection is revealed to their hearts.  
Today in communion with Christians all over the world, as we stand in front of the empty tomb as disciples loved by Jesus, let us ask the Lord to open the eyes of our faith, so that we can see and BELIEVE in His resurrection. 

Wherever we are in the world, after seeing the empty tomb and believing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, let us have the courage to proclaim and give witness the good news of Christ risen from the dead.  

This Easter, may be what you see with the eyes of faith and believe in our hearts. Make sure to profess it with our lips, and give witness with your life and with the work of charity for others.  
With the risen Christ let us face the uncertainties and the worries of the future, may this Easter, bring hope for a renew life rooted in Jesus that defeated evil and sin forever and free our hearts from doubts and fears. 
May the love and graces of Jesus Christ be with you and your loved ones this Easter and behind.
Reflection provided by Fr Bruno Ciceri, Stella Maris International DirectorDicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development