Lent calls us to repent or turn from all that obscures God’s life within us, and to believe in and turn toward the Good News of the Gospel. Lent calls us to life, to become more in touch with God’s plan for us and for the wider community through practices which are meant to focus our attention on God’s presence. Lenten fasting, prayer and almsgiving provide a sustained opportunity during Lent for us to grow closer to God, to allow God to work in us, and to recognize our own need for connection to each other.
Fasting is not simply “giving up” something, but is a practical way of renunciation. Underlying fasting is a desire to reject something that has been or is perceived to be unhealthy or counter-productive… Example: renounce watching TV because it does not promote health or relationship or is getting in the way of creativity. What would you renounce this Lent?
Prayer should always help us to focus on God and create an opening for God’s creative work in us. During Lent, our communal Eucharistic prayer feels different, simpler, more austere and mirrors our fasting. To emphasize the prayerful quality of this season, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal calls for music at Eucharist to be used “with moderation that is consistent with the season’s character” and during Lent to be used judiciously to “support the singing” of the assembly (GIRM par. #313). Silence is especially valued during Lent, especially at liturgy, as that connection to God where an exchange between us and God happens, thus we will use silence intentionally during our Eucharistic celebrations. On Sundays of Lent we will forego preludes, closing songs and postludes. Prayer leaders at Liturgy of the Hours are invited to extend the silent prayer between psalms. Excerpts from the Rule of Benedict will be read by the reader at close of evening prayer each day. Readers and leaders are invited to ponder what precedes and follows the reading, allowing space for silence. As we do our statio bows for Vigils during Lent…let us focus on the quietness of heart during this reverent and intentional prayer.
What hopes do you have for your Lenten prayer this year? Will things change, or be added to your prayer life, and what do you hope those changes will offer?
This year on Sundays during Lent, we read from Luke’s gospel and John’s gospel in Cycle C. The Scriptures summon us to witness Luke’s account of Jesus’ own temptation in the desert, and his transfiguration. We see Jesus take on the ministry that God has in mind and hear God’s voice. Like Jesus, we are invited into the unknown of the desert, where we are asked to reflect on the world’s attitudes that form us consciously or unconsciously. We are invited by Jesus to embrace transformation, to hear God’s invitation, to recognize that we are God’s beloved daughters and sons and to live fully the radical life of discipleship to which we are invited, with all its glory and challenge. Cycle C also brings us the richness of Luke’s gospel stories: Jesus and the fig tree that needs some love to bear its fruit, and the beloved parables of the prodigal son and the woman caught in adultery which challenge us to consider the invitation to forgiveness, forbearance, and patience.
During Lent, we also join with the Church in prayer for those who are entering the final phase of preparation for acceptance into the Church. In this year of continuing COVID-19, when in-person gathering is difficult or interrupted and ritual has been muted, let us remember and pray for catechumens and candidates for confirmation and baptism in a special way.
How will your scripture preparation inform and engage your hearing of these familiar stories again?
The foundational call of Christians to charity is a frequent theme of the Gospels. During Lent, we are asked to focus more intently on "almsgiving," which means donating money or goods to the poor and performing other acts of charity. One way to do this is to donate to AIM, or Alliance for International Monasticism. As one of the three pillars of Lenten practice, almsgiving is "a witness to fraternal charity" and "a work of justice pleasing to God." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2462).
What ways do you engage in almsgiving? In what ways are you a witness to charity or to works of justice pleasing to God? In what ways do you engage with this part of Lent?
Lent is a time to reflect on forgiveness, to be reconciled with God and with one another. We are called this year, especially by Luke’s gospel, to trust in God’s ability to transform us and to transform the world, and the liturgy is one way in which we personally, and as a community, are formed into God’s image. Lent is not so much about what we do for God, as it is about what God wishes to do for us: to re-create us in love and mercy, grow our compassion and kindness, kindle a desire for justice and peace. How will I stay open to what God wishes to do for me?