Accompany us on our Lenten journey through wilderness.
Give us courage to spend time in the wilderness
The place where you bring us face to face with ourselves.
Help us to pray with honesty
Help us to live with simplicity
Make us hungry and thirsty for your life-giving presence.
When we return to the comforts of our lives
And the company of others,
May we do so as those who have been transformed and renewed by your spirit.
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.
Daily Lent Scripture Reflections
Saturday, March 28 - Rejections
As Jesus continues to provoke division, the religious authorities take an ever more rigid stance against him. They so insist that they know the law, that they know the Scriptures, that they demean everyone who doesn’t agree with them. God’s prophet Jeremiah also experienced spite and dangerous rejection. In those moments we reject someone, it may turn out that we have misunderstood what God is telling us. Choose a psalm and listen for how God might be challenging you. Today’s Readings: Jeremiah 11:18–20; Psalm 7:2–3, 9bc–10, 11–12; John 7:40–53.
Fifth Sunday of Lent—Unbind Us
Father of life, Lord of the living, just as your Son called Lazarus forth from the tomb, so he commands us to step away from all that binds us. Revive our sense of evil so that we will confess the ways we are wrapped up in sin. Liberate us from ignorance and apathy, and enliven our desire for justice, healing, and peace. Send us forth to proclaim your saving power to all who are entombed. Free us from the death-dealing power of sin so that we may bear witness to your Spirit dwelling within us. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Sunday, March 29, 2020—From the Grave
Today’s Readings: Ezekiel 37:12–14; Psalm 130:1–2, 3–4, 5–6, 7–8; Romans 8:8–11; John 11:1–45. At the time of Ezekiel, God’s people did not believe in an afterlife. Ezekiel’s prophecy would have given some people hope in a future beyond the grave, but others would have struggled to believe. At the time of Jesus, even those who had come to believe in the resurrection of the dead thought God would raise the just all at once and as part of completing his reign.
By raising Lazarus, Jesus reveals God’s life-saving presence had already become active in a new, though unexpected way. The spirit of God that sustains all creation, that gave life to the first human being and filled prophets like Ezekiel, flowed outward from Jesus to free people from sin and death. All who embrace Jesus as the resurrection and the life encounter God’s life-saving and life-changing Spirit.
The gift of God’s Spirit, however, is not only a promise that God will one day open our graves and breathe life into us again. Our new lives in the Spirit begin now. We participate in the life-giving power of God whenever we work to free those who are trapped, bound, entombed: victims of domestic violence, refugees, the chronically ill, the homebound, the unborn. By standing with them, by standing for life, we reveal the continuing action of the Spirit. God opens graves and raises people to new life, not only in the future but today.
Monday, March 30—In Our Hands
In the reading from Daniel, Susanna’s life is at risk when all are tricked into turning against her. An injustice is almost committed. The woman in the Gospel passage who is caught by the religious elders seems guilty, but we sense another injustice: the woman seems more like a pawn to be used against Jesus than someone deserving of deadly punishment. Both passages warn us against making hasty judgments. The next time you disagree with someone, ask questions that help you understand that person’s point of view. Today’s Readings: Daniel 13:1–9, 15–17, 19–30, 33–62 or 13:41c–62; Psalm 23:1–3a, 3b–4, 5, 6; John 8:1–11.
Tuesday, March 31—From Above
God does not merely oppose sin and death, he subverts it. When the Israelites repent of their ingratitude, God turns the object of their punishment into an instrument of healing. Centuries later, Jesus turns the cross, an instrument of death and a symbol of Roman power, into the means of salvation and freedom. Most of all, by dying, Jesus turns death into life. Spend some time today reverencing a crucifix. Today’s Readings: Numbers 21:4–9; Psalm 102:2–3, 16–18, 19–21; John 8:21–30.
Wednesday, April 1—The Living Truth
When the king orders the three men thrown into the furnace, the men enter the fire knowing that their allegiance is to the God of Israel and no one else. By embracing that truth, the men are saved from a fiery death. Because Jesus is the Son of God, those who believe in him, who embrace who he is, will be saved from death forever. Pray with Daniel 3:52–90 or write your own hymn of praise. Today’s Readings: Daniel 3:14–20, 91–92, 95; Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56; John 8:31–42.
Thursday, April 2—Unlikely as It Sounds
God’s extraordinary promises to Abraham seemed laughable. When Sarah gave birth to Isaac, however, Abraham and Sarah would have laughed for joy. In the Gospel reading, the response is far more serious when Jesus speaks of what God will do. In both cases, people struggle to believe God’s word. What God says frequently astounds and challenges us. How has God astounded or challenged you this Lenten season? Today’s Readings: Genesis 17:3–9; Psalm 105:4–5, 6–7, 8–9; John 8:51–59.
Friday, April 3—Blasphemous Works
Although we think of Jesus as an innocent victim, his opponents followed the law when charging him with blasphemy: Jesus claimed a relationship with God that surpassed all others. In response to his opponents, Jesus asks that they examine his ministry to see if his works conform to the will of God. Jeremiah, likewise, expressed his confidence that he had faithfully answered God’s call. What do your works say about you? Today’s Readings: Jeremiah 20:10–13; Psalm 18:2–3a, 3bc–4, 5–6, 7; John 10:31–42.
Saturday, April 4—Dwelling
In Ezekiel’s prophecy, God declares that he will gather all his people displaced by war, ensure their security, and dwell with them forever. In Jesus, however, God comes to his people before they and the land are ready. The people are divided and a foreign nation occupies their land. God often comes to us when we are unprepared, but perhaps that is the very reason God arrives. Without God’s guidance, we would never be ready for God to dwell with us. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, confess the ways you are unprepared for God. Today’s Readings: Ezekiel 37:21–28; Jeremiah 31:10, 11–12abcd, 13; John 11:45–56.
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.
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.