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
Annual Presentation of the Dramatic Stations on April 12
at our Ferndale Worship Location
Wednesday Evening Prayer at 7pm
April 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
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.
Fifth Sunday of Lent – Line in the Sand
Merciful God, you lead us from the shadow of our shame to the light of forgiveness. Be with us today as we stand before you ready to acknowledge our sinfulness. Help us to be open to experience the joy of your compassion and mercy. May we find strength in knowing that you are with us, always beside us, with your love and mercy unending. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Sunday, April 7, 2019 – Freed from Sin
Today’s Readings: Isaiah 43:16–21; Psalm 126:1–2, 2–3, 4–5, 6; Philippians 3:8–14; John 8:1–11. We are all sinners. In today’s Gospel, the sin of the woman is the focus of all who gather in the Temple. When the woman is brought before Jesus, the temple crowd wants Jesus to join in their condemnation. Jesus writes in the sand and some believe he spells out the sins of those gathered.
Sometimes sin is known by all, and at other times it is hidden. The crowd walks away in their sin to avoid notoriety. But they also are walking away from the redemption and salvation that Jesus offers. The only one left is the woman and her desire is unknown. Standing face to face with Jesus in her sin, her dignity and honor are restored. Though she does not request forgiveness, Jesus heals her wounds and invites her to “sin no more.” The path that she was on would have led to her demise sooner or later.
The woman had a choice to listen to Jesus and accept his mercy and live or to ignore him and be destroyed by sin. It is the same choice we have. We can have life with Jesus or we can have death by walking away from him. Jesus offers us life; we only need the courage to accept it. Jesus awaits us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where he will forgive our sins and send us forth on a new path of freedom and life.
Monday, April 8 – The Light of the World
When Jesus says, “I am the light of the world,” he proclaims one of the seven “I am” statements in John’s account of the Gospel. Each “I am” statement explains who Jesus is. Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we come to know that light is stronger than darkness. Prayerfully consider how Jesus is light for you and how you can walk as a child of the light. Today’s Readings: Daniel 13:1–9, 15–17, 19–30, 33–62; Psalm 23:1–3, 3–4, 5–6; John 8:12–20.
Tuesday, April 9 – Hope in the Lord
With little to eat, the Israelites lost hope in the Lord and grumbled that they left Egypt only to die in the desert. When have you been disappointed and complained to the Lord, blaming him for misfortune? As Lent winds down, take note of how quickly you lose hope when matters do not go your way. Look to people who persevere through trials, relying on the Lord. When you give your troubles to the Lord, pray the refrain from the Responsorial Psalm: O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you. Today’s Readings: Numbers 21:4–9; Psalm 102:2–3, 16–18, 19–21; John 8:21–30.
Wednesday, April 10 – The Truth Will Set You Free
“If you remain in my word . . . the truth will set you free,” Jesus tells those who believe. The Jews did not understand their own bondage, that they were slaves to sin. Jesus’ truth and the Word he proclaims comes to set them free. Let us ponder what binds us today. What holds you captive? Put some time aside to reflect quietly on the Scriptures, allowing God to free you from whatever burden or turmoil you might feel. Today’s Readings: Daniel 3:14–20, 91–92, 95; Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56; John 8:31–42.
Thursday, April 11 – I Will Be Their God
How do you define yourself? Often people identify themselves by their work, station in life, or relationships. The Lord initiated a covenant relationship with Abraham, promising him that he would be the father of a host of nations. God would maintain this covenant with Abraham’s descendants throughout the ages. Do you identify yourself as a child of God? Do you allow your relationship with God to define you? Today’s Readings: Genesis 17:3–9; Psalm 105:4–5, 6–7, 8–9; John 8:51–59.
Friday, April 12 – My Rock of Refuge
Jesus stood his ground and confronted the Jews when they picked up rocks to stone him. The Jews want to arrest Jesus because they believe his words to be blasphemy. They are critical of his relationship with the Father. Can you identify with the Jews? Has there been a time when fear, jealousy, or a moment of anger brought you to wrongfully accuse another? In these final days of Lent, trust in the Lord as your refuge and your shield. Today’s Readings: Jeremiah 20:10–13; Psalm 18:2–3, 3–4, 5–6, 7; John 10:31–42.
Saturday, April 13 – Complacent Hearts
In today’s Gospel, we hear the Jewish leaders voice concern that their land will be taken if people believe in Jesus. They have been safe and secure in their way of life. As you prepare to enter Holy Week, consider how you may be similar to the Sanhedrin. Are there ways that you have become too comfortable and not allowed the Word of God to penetrate your hearts? Have you allowed the Gospel to challenge you this Lent? Determine how you can put a priority on participating in the liturgy during Holy Week. Today’s Readings: Ezekiel 37:21–28; Jeremiah 31:10, 11, 12–13; John 11:45–57.
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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