Skip to comments.Pre-Lent through Easter Prayer and Reflections -- 2007
Posted on 02/18/2007 8:47:01 PM PST by Salvation
Six minutes a day
Thats what you will be asked to give from now until Easter. Each 24 hours day has 240 six minute packages. During Lent one of these will be given to the Lord.
Once you get into it youll find this practice to be peaceful, even something to look forward to. Youll also find that it helps to make your day go a bit better. Prayer does that.
Focus on the Scripture test. God may take you down a path different from the written reflection that is provided. Dont worry about that. God speaks to us through the Sacred Word. Stay with the Scripture and the thoughts that come. This is a traditional form of prayer.
The first post for each day has a variety of quotes, suggestions, information, timely thoughts. Treat it like a buffet table from which you can take what you like. (If pressed for time, go directly to the second post for that day and spend your time with that.)
We wont start reading the Passion until Ash Wednesday, when Lent actually begins. But well start the six minute program on Sunday, February 18 (the Sunday before Ash Wednesday), which will give us three days to get ready for Lent.
Please notify me via FReepmail if you would like to be added to or taken off the Catholic Prayer and Reflection Ping List.
(Before you begin to sketch your Lenten plans on a piece of paper, go to the next post. We need to do some thinking and praying before we chart a course through Lent. God is our guide and its to God we must go before we do anything!)
My Lenten Plans:
A Good Beginning
Todays six minutes need to be spent asking God how we should spend Lent 2007
We all have a fairly large stock file of resolutions in the back of our mind, an ougha-do list. These are the resolutions we usually pull out when Lent begins (or on New Years Eve.)
Perhaps wed do better to put those aside for now and find out what God has in mind for us. There might be some surprises.
Put yourself in the following scene: Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
You are now on the mountain with Jesus. Its peaceful, with a wonderful view in all directions, and plenty of time to be alone, one-on-one with the Lord.
Talk straight with him and ask him to give you some thoughts about what to write for that previous post.
Lovely idea, to begin to prepare for Lent now, in advance.
What a good idea. The fact that it hadn't occurred to me to ask God what He wants me to do with Lent shows what a tizzy I've been in for weeks :-).
Thanks for all the Lenten preparatory threads, Salvation. I now know that I will be on an "Internet Fast" this year. It will be VERY hard for me, as many of my friends live in my computer. ;)
However, I also know that I will be able to focus more on the Lord during this season, as it should be. My family already knows, so it's a done deal! I will check in on Sundays.
Blessings to you in your internet fast. You are an inspiration. Several others have shared with me that they will be doing the same thing.
Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be given unto you.
Operation Rice Bowl
Throughout Lent people across the United States will participate in Operation Rice Bowl. This Lenten program invites people to place a cardboard container (given out in parishes) in their homes, and put in it the money that is saved because of their fasting and the things they give up for Lent.
At the end of Lent, the Rice Bowl is brought to Mass and the money is used for development projects in poor nations and hunger relief in the local diocese.
In 1975, Operation Rice Bowl began in the Diocese of Allentown, Pa., as a local ecumenical effort to aid drought victims in the African Sahel. It was introduced during the 41st International Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia in 1976 when it was adopted nationally by Catholic Relief Services.
Orthodox Lent began yesterday
Fast and Abstinence
The regulations on Lenten fast and abstinence are:
FASTING: On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, those who are 18 but not yet 59 are allowed only one full meal. Two smaller meals are allowed as needed, but eating solid foods between meals is not permitted.
ABSTINENCE FROM MEAT: Those who are 14 years of age or older are to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent.
The Church no longer attempts to prescribe Lenten practice in detail. The above regulations simply highlight Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and the other Fridays of Lent.
The more fundamental obligation is to make Lent a penitential season, choosing practices that are adapted to ones own needs.
By the solemn 40 days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert. ~ Catechism of the Catholic Church
Good on ya! I did that during Advent, and it was *tough*!
After the devastating Hurricane Katrina of 2005, many people wondered if Mardi Gras would return to New Orleans six months later. With more than 80 percent of the city flooded by the hurricane, was it too soon to don a party hat?
Yet Mardi Gras could mean a financial boost to the strapped city (pre-Katrina, Mardi Gras would provide up to $300 million in revenue.) Many residents also saw Mardi Gras as an opportunity to show the nation that New Orleans wasnt giving up.
City officials opted to go ahead. While attendance was down and the schedule was abbreviated (eight days, instead of two weeks of parades), participants gamely carried on, some even dressing as sandbags, or wearing blue tarps.
The French word for Tuesday is mardi, and the French word for fat, rich is gras. Thus today is Mardi Gras with its feasting and carnivals a final celebration before the penitential Lenten practices that begin tomorrow.
Lent begins tomorrow. Spend some time on the plans you wrote February 18th.
Each of the Gospels has its own characteristics a distinctive writing style, some content the others do not have, and differences in the order of events.
One of the characteristics of Matthews Gospel is the frequent citation of Old Testament texts that relate to an event in the life of Jesus. It is in Matthew that Jesus says at his arrest: All this has come to pass so that the writings of the prophets may be fulfilled.
Matthew also uses vivid details that catch the imagination. In the Infancy Narrative, for example, He has Magi who come from the East, a star, precious gifts, dreams.
In the Passion account, it is Matthew who has Judas throw the 30 pieces of silver into the Temple and then hang himself, Pilates wife intervene with a dream in the middle of the trial, and Pilate wash his hands in front of the crowd.
And when Jesus dies, there is an earthquake, and the dead rising from their tombs and entering Jerusalem. These are not told for their own sake, but to bring out a deeper meaning. Matthew wants us to realize that what is taking place affects the earth and the heavens, and affects both this life and life after death.
Despite their differences, in the Passion account, the four evangelists have the most in common. This is because it was a story told and re-told long before the evangelists put it in writing.
Spend some quiet time with the Lord.
By wearing a cross of ashes on their foreheads, Christians ask Gods help to see things as they really are, (Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return.) and to set their eyes on what lasts forever. They also express their bond with other disciples of the Lord who publicly wear those ashes on their foreheads.
During the Reformation, most Protestant churches eliminated the use of ashes, along with many other external practices. As a result, a person wearing ashes on Ash Wednesday was identified as a Catholic.
That isnt necessarily true today. In recent years, many of these Churches have been returning to the use of the ashes a a sacred symbol.
Although most Catholics may be familiar with the Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return. The Church also provides an alternative prayer when ashes are distributed. Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel, which is taken from Mark 1:15.
The Passion according to Matthew
Jesus said to his disciples, You know that in two days time it will be Passover, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified. Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest who was called Caiaphas, and they consulted together to arrest Jesus by treachery and put him to death. But they said, not during the festival, that there may not be a riot among the people.
In Matthews chronology, it is Wednesday, and Friday will be Passover. Jesus will become the new Passover lamb, bringing to his people not freedom from slavery in Egypt, but freedoms from the slavery of sin and the clutches of death.
At the beginning of Matthews Gospel, when the Magi inquired about the newborn king, Herod assembled the religious leaders to help locate the child. He wanted to kill him. Herod failed. Now, at the end of the Gospel, the religious leaders assemble for the same purpose. They will not fail.
You and I survived the first fragile days of life after our conception (some dont,) and weve survived through all the years since then. But one day we shall die. We cant foresee the details, but we can foresee the fact. We shall die. And we shall go to God.
Does the way I am living my life take that into account?
Lent is about more than losing weight.
Spend some quiet time with the Lord.
The Woman Who Came to Dinner
All four Gospels tell the story of a woman who enters the house where Jesus is a dinner guest and anoints him with precious oil. But there are significant differences.
In Matthew and Mark, a woman anoints Jesus head with expensive oil. She is not identified as a sinner.
In Luke, :a sinful woman in the city: weeps upon Jesus feet, wipes them with her hair, kisses them, and anoints them with perfume.
In John, Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus anoints the feet of Jesus with precious oil and dries them with her hair.
Many scholars believe that two different events gradually became intertwined in oral tradition: (1)While Jesus was at dinner, a sinful woman came to him, her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them with her hair. (2) While Jesus was at another dinner a woman, to express her love for him anointed his head with oil.
By the time the Gospels were written, each evangelist had a slightly different version that had mixed together in one story some details from these two separate events.
Then as the centuries unfolded, the sinful woman was mistakenly identified as Mary Magdalene: probably because of the statement in Luke that severe demons had been cast out of her. Although this was a standard way of speaking of someone cured of sickness, some mistook it for sinfulness.
Now when Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster jar of costly perfumed oil and poured it on his head wile he was reclining at table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant and said, Why this waste? It could have been sold for much and the money given to the poor. Mt. 26:6-9
This unnamed womans kind act toward Jesus sharply contrasts with the plot of the religious leaders to kill him.
In Matthew, her act is also in sharp contrast to the reactions of Jesus disciples who are annoyed at her largesse. Some have suggested that Matthew notes this because the community for whom he wrote had many people of means. He was directing a message to those who were overly concerned about money.
The traditional Lenten practice of almsgiving nudges us to lavish our largesse upon the poor. What would happen if I took a large bite out of a weeks paycheck and gave it to the poor? I cant do that every week, but then again this is Lent.
It wouldnt erase world poverty. But it would have a large effect upon me, and remind me that all creation including my possessions belongs to God.
Spend some quiet time with the Lord.
Born of Christian parents near the end of the first century, Polycarp was a disciple of St. John the Evangelist and frequently quoted him and other eyewitnesses to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Therefore, Polycarp is often viewed as the link between the Church of the apostles and the post-apostolic Church.
Polycarp served as bishop of Smyrma (modern-day Turkey.) At age 86, he was burned at the stake for his faith.
Polycarp was a contemporary and friend of St. Ignatius of Antioch. Ignatius writes about Polycarp in his epistles to the Magnesians and the Ephesians, and in his seventh epistle which is addressed to Polycarp.
St. Irenaeus also mentions Polycarp several times in various letters, including a letter to Pope Victor in which Irenaeus describes Polycarps visit to Rome regarding a controversy over the date for Easter.
Jesus said to the disciples, Why do you make trouble for the woman? She has done a good thing for me. The poor you will always have with you; but you will not always have me. In pouring this perfumed oil upon my body, she did it to prepare me for the burial. Amen, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be spoken of, in memory of her. Mt. 26:10-13< B>
The words of Jesus, The poor you will always have with you," have sometimes been misunderstood. Jesus was not saying that poverty is inevitable so theres not much you can do about it.
Jesus was quoting from the Book of Deuteronomy where Moses is giving a speech to the Israelites as they prepared to enter the Promised Land. Moses tells them that there will be abundance in the new land and thus theres no reason for poverty.
Then, Moses recognizes, not in a complimentary way, that despite this abundance, the poor you will always have with you. In other words, even though there is enough for everybody, it will probably not be distributed fairly.
Far from simply accepting poverty as a fact of life, Jesus is quoting a passage that says that this should not be so.
In effect, he says: Why do you worry over this womans act of generosity, when you have accepted a system which leaves so many people in need?
Its a good question to think about during Lent.
Spend some quiet time with the Lord.