Lent is the 40-day season of the church calendar leading up to Easter. It may simply be thought of as a time when people give something up. While the tradition of giving up something (like chocolate or alcohol or caffeine) is part of Lent, the meaning of season is bigger.
It is a season to slowly prepare our souls. It is a time to open ourselves to the presence of God in our lives…It is a time to sit among the ashes, confident that love will abound in due time. It is a time to be washed by our tears into the water of new life, to come to real transformation and newness ready to celebrate the feast that is given us at Easter.
Observing Lent can be a helpful time of year for cultivating the presence of God and growing in grace in order to serve in a new and meaningful way.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. Our Mother of Perpetual Help Parish will celebrate Mass on Ash Wednesday, March 6 at 9:00 am in Oak Park and 7:00 pm in Ferndale. This Mass leads us to awareness of our mortality, confession of our sin, and worship of Christ as our suffering substitute. The service will include an imposition of ashes - a physical reminder of our finitude before an infinite God.
During Lent Our Mother of Perpetual Help Parish will focus on the theme of Cultivate, Grow, Serve. Lent is a season of spiritual gardening, of inviting God to unearth in us what lies fallow, what needs to be tended, and what needs to die for new life to emerge. Just as the land needs tending in order for things to grow so is it with our hearts, minds and spirits.
This year, our lectionary offers us images and stories with themes of earthiness and grit. Try approaching these scriptures (RCL Year C) with these guiding questions:
In this text, what is being cultivated and what is being let go? What are the characters cultivating and letting go of?
In light of this passage, what is God cultivating in us and what are we being called to let go of?
1ST SUNDAY IN LENT
Luke 4:1-13 (Jesus in the wilderness)
Deuteronomy 26:1-11 (The Israelites settle in the wilderness)
2ND SUNDAY IN LENT
Luke 13:31-35 (Jesus as a mother hen)
Psalm 27 (“I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” v. 13)
3RD SUNDAY IN LENT
Luke 13:1-9 (Parable of a fig tree with no fruit)
Isaiah 55:1-9 (“Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters” v.1)
4TH SUNDAY IN LENT
Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 (Parable of the prodigal son)
2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away” v. 17)
5TH SUNDAY IN LENT
John 8:1-11 (“Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”)
Isaiah 43:16-21 (“I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” v. 19)
Luke 19:28-40 (Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem)
Luke 22: 39-46 (Jesus prays at the Mount of Olives)
Psalm 22 (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” v. 1)
The daily readings are also a source of images for our theme. Take time this Lent to explore them. Or better yet, attend our Monday through Friday 9:00 am Mass.
Another historic practice of the church during Lent has been an intentional focus on spiritual disciplines, like prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. To that end, throughout Lent Our Mother of Perpetual Help Parish will facilitate special times of prayer. Because it is an essential part of growing with Jesus, as individuals and as a community. In Oak Park on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 pm we will have Evening Prayer. A time set apart for quiet, meditative prayer. The ancient devotional practice of the Stations of the Cross will be prayed at 7:00 pm in Ferndale. A time, set apart, to walk with Jesus to his crucifixion.
Our hope is that everyone will participate in this prayer time at least once during Lent. Some of you may commit to attending once/week. These prayer and devotion times will have a simple structure and will be guided by church staff and other members. You can come alone, organize a group of friends to attend with you, or invite someone with you who may need a ride. Let’s look forward to how God will grow us as we commit to seeking His face in prayer.
Again, we hope that you will join us for our worship events this Lent, journey with us, recommit ourselves, explore our lives as a garden that stands in constant need of pruning and hoeing and cutting, in order to Cultivate, Grow, Serve.
Schedule of Lent Worship Events
Friday Stations of the Cross at 7pm
March 22, 29
Dramatic Stations on April 12
at our Ferndale Worship Location
Wednesday Evening Prayer at 7pm
April 3, 10, 17
at our Oak Park Worship Location
Lent Penance Service - Monday, April 15 at 7pm at our Oak Park Worship Location
The Triduum will be celebrated at our Oak Park Worship Location
Daily Lent Scripture Reflections
Friday, March 22 - Reject the Cornerstone
It is easy to stand outside the setting of today’s Gospel and not identify with the characters in this parable. The tenants are portrayed as those who do not listen to the owner. They are shown as disobedient and greedy. During an examination of conscience, consider how you listen to the Word of God. Do you give God glory or only seek your success and reward? Do you worry excessively about money and finances? Have you intentionally done evil to someone? Today’s Readings: Genesis 37:3–4, 12–13, 17–28; Psalm 105:16–17, 18–19, 20–21; Matthew 21:33–43, 45–46.
Saturday, March 23 - Joy of the Feast
The parable of the forgiving father is familiar to us. What do we think the younger son was expecting when he arrived home? He had been away from his country, his father’s house, and his family a long time. He did not know what was happening there while he was gone. Upon his return, he experiences the mercy and the love of his Father. The joy of the feast is compromised by the response of the older brother. Do we ever judge our family members in a harsher light? Carry out a random act of kindness in your home today. Today’s Readings: Micah 7:14–15, 18–20; Psalm 103:1–2, 3–4, 9–10, 11–12; Luke 15:1–3, 11–32.
Third Sunday of Lent – Patience and Mercy
God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, you rescued your people and led them to a land of milk and honey. Throughout history, you have patiently allowed your people time to repent. May we be grateful for your mercy and regard this season of Lent as a time to be cultivated in your ways so that we may bear fruit in the future. We look to your Word to guide us on our journey as we seek to know your will. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Sunday, March 24, 2019 – Repentance
Today’s Readings: Exodus 3:1–8, 13–15; Psalm 103:1–2, 3–4, 6–7, 8–11; 1 Corinthians 10:1–6, 10–12; Luke 13:1–9. The word “repent” is usually equated with being sorry or seeking forgiveness. During Jesus’ time on earth, people would understand repentance to mean a change of life, a total transformation. Change is difficult, even when it is small.
In today’s Gospel, we hear a parable about a fig tree that has produced no fruit during three years. Now the time has run out, and the owner wants to cut the tree down. However, the gardener requests that he be allowed to care for the fig tree for one year, cultivating the ground and fertilizing it, so that it will bear fruit in the future.
During Lent, we pray and fast so that we can live out our life in Christ better. These forty days offer an opportunity to reexamine our lives and to seek what God desires of us. This is our chance to be fertilized and cultivated in God’s ways so that we can bear fruit in the future. How are you making small changes in your life so that God can transform you? Are there habits of prayer or reading Scripture that you are trying to form? How can you integrate these habits into your life even after Lent? Take some time today to reflect on what in your life is in need of repentance. Remember, Lent will soon be half over.
Monday, March 25 – Handmaid of the Lord
Mary responds to the angel Gabriel, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, may it be done to me according to your word.” In describing herself as the handmaid of the Lord, Mary is claiming her role as a humble servant before God. Mary models for us how we are to respond to God, with a humble heart that is ready to assist and to serve. How can you surrender yourself to God’s will? How are you called this week to be of service to others? Today’s Readings: Isaiah 7:10–14; Psalm 40:7–8, 8–9, 10, 11; Hebrews 10:4–10; Luke 1:26–38.
Tuesday, March 26 – Forgive from Your Heart
Do you find forgiveness to be difficult in your life? Is it easier for you to ask for forgiveness or to be the one who offers pardon to another who has wronged you? Forgiveness can lead to healing and peace. This is our hope: to be restored to one another and to God. Find out when your parish community is offering the Sacrament of Reconciliation and plan to attend. Today’s Readings: Daniel 3:25, 34–43; Psalm 25:4–5, 6–7, 8–9; Matthew 18:21–35.
Wednesday, March 27 – Fulfillment of the Law
The law and the prophets were guides for the Chosen People. Jesus comes to fulfill the law, and the law he shares is the law of love. When it comes to living our faith, we must do so with a sincere heart. How often do you do something because it is required? Today strive to lift up one of your obligatory tasks and embrace it with a new heart of love and humility for the Lord. Today’s Readings: Deuteronomy 4:1, 5–9; Psalm 147:12–13, 15–16, 19–20; Matthew 5:17–19.
Thursday, March 28 – Unfair Judgment
Those who witness Jesus casting out a demon were amazed, but they also were skeptical about the source of his power and even tried to test him by demanding a sign from heaven. Have you ever been in a situation in which there seemed to be no good options to take? Have you ever been judged unfairly? Jesus invites us to follow him and in doing so, we need to pray for one another. It can be difficult to pray for those who are unkind and causing division. Ask God to heal them and for the courage to follow Jesus. Today’s Readings: Jeremiah 7:23–28; Psalm 95:1–2, 6–7, 8–9; Luke 11:14–23.
Friday, March 29 – Loving God
Jesus summarized the Commandments into loving God completely and loving neighbor as ourselves. Do you find it more difficult to love God or others? What does it mean to love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength? How will you show your love of God today? Today’s Readings: Hosea 14:2–10; Psalm 81:6–8, 10–11, 14, 17; Mark 12:28–34.
Saturday, March 30 – Right Attitude
Through a parable about two men praying in the Temple, Jesus calls us to a right attitude of ourselves before God and others. The posture, gestures, and words of the two men reveal much about their relationship with the Lord. Which man’s life was changed because of his prayer that day? Do you open yourself to be changed through prayer? As you continue to journey through Lent, consider a new prayer form, such as journaling, centering prayer, or adoration, to enrich your relationship with God. Today’s Readings: Hosea 6:1–6; Psalm 51:3–4, 18–19, 20–21; Luke 18:9–14.
Fourth Sunday of Lent - Your Children’s Children
God of all generations,
from the beginning of time,
you have given your children
an abundance of gifts
and provided for their needs.
The Israelites were nourished
with the Passover meal,
and shared the produce of the land,
as they told the story of the covenant
in the land of Canaan.
We ask that you continue to bless
your elect with the Bread of Life, and
the story of your presence among your people.
May our gathering around the ambo and altar
sustain us, our children, and our children’s children.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Sunday, March 31, 2019 - Gifts of Love
Today’s Readings: Joshua 5:9, 10–12; Psalm 34:2–3, 4, 5, 6–7; 2 Corinthians 5:17–21; Luke 15:1–3, 11–32. We hear in the Book of Joshua how the Lord takes care of all the needs of his people. They had relied upon manna sent as bread from heaven. Now they would eat from the produce of the land. Both the manna and the grain were gifts from God and provided nourishment for his children.
In the story of the prodigal son, it is easy to focus on the younger son, who takes his father’s inheritance and squanders it on extravagant living. When he finds himself in a foreign land, alone and hungry, he finally realizes who he is and decides to return to his father to ask to be a hired hand. When the son is within eyesight, the father runs to him and embraces him with compassionate love. No matter what the son has done, he is welcomed home.
But what about the older son, who does not appreciate the love that the father showed to his younger son? The older son confronts his father since he is upset about the excessive love showered on the younger brother, who is given sandals, a robe, a ring, and a party for his friends. The father in this parable offers both of his sons his love. That is his gift to them. He invites them both to participate in the celebration. During this Lent, remember that the Lord always looks forward to the return of his children.
Monday, April 1 - God’s Grace
The royal official trusts so much in the word Jesus speaks, that he returned home sure that his daughter would be well. Jesus gave him the opportunity to have faith without seeing. When we come to Jesus with our desires, we do not always get an immediate response to our requests. Often when our prayers are answered, they take us in a direction that we may not have anticipated. Pray today that you may trust where God’s grace is leading you. Today’s Readings: Isaiah 65:17–21; Psalm 30:2, 4, 5–6, 11–13; John 4:43–54.
Tuesday, April 2 - Healing the Isolation
The man who had been sick for thirty-eight years holds out hope that he will be cured, even though he has no one to help him. His hope is fulfilled when Jesus encounters the man at that place of healing. Have you ever been isolated because you needed help? Can you offer assistance or support to the aged or sick who live near you this Lent? Something as simple as bringing a smile, reading a story, or taking someone for a walk can help them feel less alone. Today’s Readings: Ezekiel 47:1–9, 12; Psalm 46:2–3, 5–6, 8–9; John 5:1–3, 5–16.
Wednesday, April 3 - The Work of the Father
“My Father is at work until now, and I am at work as well.” When Jesus told the Pharisees this, they were only angered at what they considered blasphemy. God continues to work, even on the Sabbath. How are we called to be collaborators in the work of God? Reflect on how you can practice the spiritual and corporal works of mercy to continue the work of God. Today’s Readings: Isaiah 49:8–15; Psalm 145:8–9, 13–15, 17–18; John 5:17–30.
Thursday, April 4 - The Word of God
Today’s Gospel continues Jesus’ response to those who are not open to hearing his words. Do you ever shut yourself off from the power of the Word of God? This week, be intentional about sitting quietly with his Word, allowing the Word of God to enter your heart. Pay attention to words or phrases that strike you. Write that word or phrase in your Lenten journal. How can you continue to think about that Scripture verse this week? Today’s Readings: Exodus 32:7–14; Psalm 106:19–20, 21–22, 23; John 5:31–47.
Friday, April 5 - Prepare Your Heart
The crowd in Jerusalem cannot seem to agree. They either know everything about Jesus or they do not know anything about him. It is easy to limit ourselves by making an assumption or jumping to a conclusion. Sometimes, too, decisions are rationalized. Prepare your heart by participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation or by seeking a spiritual director who is available to pray with you, challenge you, and help you to see how God is calling you. Today’s Readings: Wisdom 2:1, 12–22; Psalm 34:17–18, 19–20, 21, 23; John 7:1–2, 10, 25–30.
Saturday, April 6 - Open Your Heart
Have you ever been with a group in which each person holds a different opinion? As they attempt to speak and argue their point, confusion and frustration ensues. The Gospel today speaks about division, because the Jewish leaders were judging Jesus. We do not have to look very far to see division and conflict in our communities and even our parishes and families. Let us pray to have an open mind and heart to the thoughts of others. Let us not close ourselves to the presence of Christ in the heart of someone whose opinion differs from ours. Today’s Readings: Jeremiah 11:18–20; Psalm 7:2–3, 9–10, 11–12; John 7:40–53.
If you would follow me, follow where life will lead: Do not look for me among the dead, For I am hidden in pain, risen in love; There is no harvest without sowing of grain.
Refrain: All that is hidden will be made clear. All that is dark now will be revealed. What you have heard in the dark proclaim in the light; What you hear in whispers proclaim from the housetops.
If you would honor me, Honor the least of these: You will not find me dressed in finery. My Word cries out to be heard; breaks through the world: My Word is on your lips and lives in your heart.
If you would speak of me, live all your life in me. my ways are not the ways that you would choose; my thoughts are far beyond yours, as heaven from earth: If you believe in me my voice will be heard.
If you would rise with me, rise through your destiny: do not refuse the death which brings you life, for as the grain in the earth must die for rebirth, So I have planted your life deep within mine.
We Belong to Christ
God of all ages,
your people gather before you
having been marked by the sign of faith.
May this universal sign of redemption
remind us, as we are on our Lenten journey,
that we belong to Christ.
May we, like all of your disciples, be on guard
against making impressions,
learn to offer prayer wrapped in silence,
and fast with joyful hearts.
We ask you to bless these forty days of preparation,
for we long to draw closer to you.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lent is the season which runs from Ash Wednesday until the Mass of the Lord's Supper exclusive.
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of total fast and abstinence. The Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence.
In keeping with the spirit and meaning of the Lenten fast, Catholics are encouraged to observe the Good Friday fast through Holy Saturday and until the celebration of the Easter vigil.
The law of fasting binds persons from the completion of their 18th year to the beginning of their 60th year, i.e., from the day after their 18th birthday to the day after their 59th birthday.
The law of fasting allows only one full meal a day, but does not prohibit taking some food in the morning and evening, observing as far as quantity and quality are concerned, approved local custom. The order of meals is optional; i.e., the full meal may be taken in the evening instead of at midday. Also: 1) The quantity of food taken at the two lighter meals should not exceed the quantity taken at the full meal; 2) The drinking of ordinary liquids does not break the fast.
The law of abstinence binds persons from the completion of their 14th year, i.e., from the day after their 14th birthday throughout life.
The law of abstinence forbids the use of meat. It does not forbid the use of eggs, the products of milk or condiments made of animal fat. Also permissible are soups flavored with meat, meat gravy and sauces.
Pocket Prayer for Lent
You created us from the dust of the earth,
And breathed your own life into our very being.
You recreated us in Christ
through the waters of Baptism,
That we might share as a people your fullness of life.
Through these 40 days
May our fasting strengthen us
to seek your justice,
May our prayer lead us
to become makers of peace,
And may our sharing
quicken the seeds of your Reign,
Present in all human hearts, and growing in mystery,
As we await with joyful anticipation,
the resurrection of Jesus your Son.
We make this prayer to you in his name. Amen
Do you want to Fast this Lent?
Fast from hurting words and say kind words
Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude
Fast from anger and be filled with patience
Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope
Fast from worries and trust in God
Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity
Fast from pressures and be prayerful
Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy
Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others
Fast from grudges and be reconciled
Fast from words and be silent so you can listen
In this Time
O God of mercy,
who is slow to anger and rich in kindness,
grant us, as we continue our Lenten journey,
contrite hearts that long for reconciliation
and steadfast spirits that proclaim your love.
In this acceptable time,
soften our calloused hearts,
watch over us, and keep us from all sin.
In this season of repentance,
help us turn toward the light of your Son, Jesus Christ,
and away from selfish ambition.
In this period of renewal,
open our ears to hear your voice,
which calls us out of darkness,
so that with clean hearts we can forever proclaim your praise.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lent is a time to pause and step back from situations that lead to sin, a time to see how God is at work in others and in the world and, especially, a time to return to the Lord, knowing that his mercy is boundless. Lent is a time “to allow our hearts to beat once more in tune with the vibrant heart of Jesus.”
This is a day of new beginning,
Time to remember and move on,
Time to believe what love is bringing,
Laying to rest the pain that's gone.
For by the life and death of Jesus,
God's mighty Spirit, now as then,
Can make for us a world of difference,
As faith and hope are born again.
Then let us, with Spirit's daring,
Step from the past and leave behind
Our disappointment, guilt and grieving,
Seeking new paths, and sure to find.
Christ is alive, and goes before us
To show and share what love can do.
This is a day of new beginnings;
Our God is making all things new.
In faith we'll gather round the table
To taste and share what love can do.
This is a day of new beginnings;
Our God is making all things new.
Knowing the commands of the Christ,
let this be our way of life:
let us feed the hungry,
let us give the thirsty drink,
let us clothe the naked,
let us welcome strangers,
let us visit those in prison and the sick.
Then the judge of all will say even to us:
Come, you blessed of my Father,
inherit the realm prepared for you!
In these days of Lent, take time to sit quietly and listen to God. In a journal, write or draw what you hear and rest in the presence of God whose love knows no end.
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