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THIRD WEEK OF LENT
The not-so-subtle satirical painting by Quentin Matsys, the Flemish master of the 16th century, suggests that perhaps the Church at his time needed Jesus’ cleansing. Yet, through the use of thoroughly human faces, it is not just the people of Matsys’s time that needed repentance and purification. The image invites us to see ourselves in it as well, to see and acknowledge honestly those areas of our lives needing a major cleaning. This painting begs us to wonder what kind of people we are and how Jesus would see us if he walked into the room right now. Do we flee? Do we passively observe? Do we ignore? Do we learn from the lesson and make amends?
SECOND WEEK OF LENT
Francesco Zuccarelli invites us into the Transfiguration of Christ in his painting. Christ’s gesture in the painting is one of openness, embrace, and ascent. He is giving himself fully to his Father with luminous and serene expression. Bringing together heaven and earth, the Transfiguration is a comprehensive experience in which the divine voice addresses the human heart through all of its senses.
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” The Transfiguration of Christ teaches us that glory comes through the Cross. We can endure all that life throws our way, as long as we have faith.
FIRST WEEK OF LENT
The Temptation of Christ is a 12th–century detail of the magnificent mosaic program of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. We are reminded that temptation is part of every Christian’s life, and as the mosaic in the Basilica of St. Mark depicts, temptation was also a part of Jesus’ life. The story the mosaic tells is a simple one, but despite its simplicity, asking how our lives tell this story too can be an uncomfortable thing, because it means noticing how we are tempted. Jesus, says teaches us to resist temptation just as he did, moving instead from poverty to acceptance of humiliations and so into humility and dependence on God—all originating from having been immersed in God's endless love.
PRAYER FOR A FRUITFUL LENT
My precious and crucified Lord, I offer You this Lent.
I offer it to You with total abandonment and trust.
I offer You my prayers, sacrifices and my very life this day.
Do with me, Lord, as You will.
I pray that this Lent will be fruitful.
I know You have much to say to me and much to do in my life.
May this Lent be a time through which Your mercy is poured in abundance into my soul,
and into the souls of all Your faithful.
Dearest Lord, help me to especially see my sin, this Lent.
Humble me so that I may see clearly.
Give me courage and strength to confess my sins,
and to turn from them with all my heart.
Enlighten me with Your Holy Word, dear Lord.
Help me to come to know You and to deepen the gift of faith in my life.
Show me the plan You have for me,
and place my feet upon the path You have chosen.
Lord, I thank You for the fullness of Your perfect Sacrifice.
I thank You for holding nothing back,
giving Your life to the last drop of blood.
May I offer You my very life as a sacrifice,
trusting in Your mercy with every offering.
Keep me faithful to my Lenten promises,
and bring forth new life through these sacrifices of love.
Strengthen my prayer and make me holy.
Help me to turn to You, each day,
seeking Your sacred and pierced Heart.
Blessed Mother, you stood by your Son in His suffering and death,
stand by me, I pray, as I journey through this life.
Pray for me and offer me to Your Son,
that He may take me into His loving embrace.
Lord, Jesus, Son of the Living God,
have mercy on me a sinner.
Mother Mary, Mother of our Crucified Lord,
pray for us who have recourse to thee.
Carl Spitzweg’s “Ash Wednesday” invites us into the Lenten season with a spirit of introspective piety. On this first day of Lent, we don ashes and hear the call to return to the Lord. The path of this return can seem daunting, intimidating. Looking inward can mean taking a hard look at everything that keeps us from living life to the fullest. It is easier to avoid this and fall prey to worldly distractions. Yet we are reassured: “Gracious and merciful is the Lord, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment....” (Psalm 102(3):8-18)
Let us pray for a renewal and strengthening of our faith.
ASH WEDNESDAY AND LENT - WHAT IS IT?
The blessing of the ashes and the significance of the day: The priest dipping his thumb into ashes (collected from burnt palms of the previous year’s Palm Sunday), marks the forehead of each with the sign of the cross, saying the words, "Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return" or “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” By marking the sign of the cross with ashes on the foreheads of her children, the Church gives us:
a firm conviction that a) we are mortal beings, b) our bodies will become dust when buried and ashes if cremated, and c) our life-span is very brief and unpredictable;
a strong warning that we will be eternally punished if we do not repent of our sins and do penance; and
a loving invitation to realize and acknowledge our sinful condition and return to our loving and forgiving God with true repentance as the prodigal son did.
On Ash Wednesday, we are invited to effect a real conversion and renewal of life during the period of Lent by fasting, penance, and reconciliation.
“There is joy in the salutary fasting and abstinence of Christians who eat and drink less in order that their minds may be clearer and more receptive to receive the sacred nourishment of God's word, which the whole Church announces and meditates upon in each day's liturgy throughout Lent” (Thomas Merton).
Penance and Reconciliation
Lent is a time for forgiveness and reconciliation. It is the model given by Jesus. It was his teaching: “If any one wishes to follow me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me” and “Try to enter through the narrow gate.” Penance removes the weakness left by sin in our souls and it makes our prayers more fruitful. By receiving the ashes, we confess that we are sinners in need of the mercy of God, and we ask forgiveness for the various ways in which we have hurt our brothers and sisters. Let us allow the spirit of forgiveness to work its healing influence in our parishes and families.
STATIONS OF THE CROSS
We may not be able to pray together in our church, but here is a video, from which you can follow and pray the Stations of the Cross just as we would do in Church. Let us try and do this on Fridays in Lent, but especially on Good Friday.