Lent Reflections 2021

 

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Ash Wednesday

 

Lent is a time of grace and spiritual growth. It is a time when we recall Jesus’ sacrifice more vividly. A time when we promise to be God’s instruments in shaping the future of our world. A time to straighten out our relationship with God and grow closer to Jesus and the Holy Spirit in our actions and in our prayers of need and thanksgiving. In our prayer of need, we cry to the God of history, and in our prayer of thanksgiving and love, we go beyond the God of history into the presence of ‘I AM WHO I AM’. In this prayer let us listen to the silent voice of God, who through the sacrifice of Jesus, is saying to each one of us, “I see your sorrow and your pain, I care for you and I love you”

Prayer

As we begin Lent, O holy God, strengthen us in our endeavours against evil. Bless our efforts to live in union with you and all the people of the world. Help us to discover whatever interferes with loving each other. We ask this in union with all people who begin this season in your name. Amen.

 

Patience Ezimigbo  OLA

 

Friday 19th February


ASHES


Readings: Gen 2:7; Gen 3:19; Job 42:6; Lk 10:13

Scripture:

“Therefore I retract all I have said, and in dust and ashes I repent,” Job 42:6

Reflection:

Much of life is “starting over”. The readings remind us to remember our earthly origins no matter how much we are tempted to forget them. Ashes serve as a plain reminder of human mortality which is a compelling reason to do penance. The ashes on Ash Wednesday come from the burning of palms from the previous Palm Sunday; the residue is crushed into a fine powder, and then applied to the forehead. We are truly “of the earth,” but we have been invited into close participation in God’s own life.

Daily Practice:

Take some time out today to consider how you would like to start over, to make these forty days a time of true conversion that will last well beyond the Lenten season.

Prayer:

Grant us o Lord the grace to let go of those things that separate us from you and each other, so that we may manifest your loving presence in our world.

Amen.

 

Friday 26th February


FASTING


Readings: Exodus 34:28; Joel 2:12-13; Acts 13:2; Lk 2:36; Matt 4:1

Scripture:

“Even now, declares the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity”. (Joel 2:12-13)

Reflection:

Fasting can be good for us when it is done in a proper context. Especially during Lent, we usually identify fasting with giving up something tangible like food and drink. But the hunger we feel in our stomachs reminds us of our more important hunger for the things of God. This Lent perhaps we might consciously fast from other intangibles, like how we respond and behave. Such as fasting from complaining and be grateful for our lives, fasting from anger, and be a forgiven and understanding person, a fast from noise in order to spend time in silent and prayer, fast from television in order to spend more time with families and friends. 

Daily Practice:

Think of what you might fast from that would free you to do something meaningful and enriching to yourself and people around you.

Prayer:

Dear Lord, by your grace, help us this lent to put aside the things that separate us from you and bring the joy and hope of your resurrection into our homes and hearts.

Amen.


Friday 5th March


PRAYER


Reading: Ps 141:2; Jer 29:12; Matt 26:41; Phil 4:6; Matt 6:7-15

Scripture:

Jesus said to His disciples:

“In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him”. This is how you are to pray: Our Father who art in heaven… thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”… (Matt 6: 7-15).

Reflection:

Prayer is not a matter of many words but of the heart. Prayer is simply letting our will turn the way they are by nature and grace inclined- to that infinite good of God’s love. The gift of faith enables us to see the world and everything and everyone in it as a gift from the God whose love for us knows neither beginning nor end. This requires special effort; it requires solitude, silence, and a strong determination to listen. That’s what prayer is. It is listening to the voice that calls us “my Beloved”. Calling God “Abba, Father” is a cry of the heart, a prayer welling up from our innermost beings.

Daily Practice:

What daily ritual or prayer could you practice that would help you develop a prayerful perspective of gratitude and openheartedness? What can we do today to help us learn to hear the voice of God within? Resolve to spend some time today alone with God.

Prayer:

Dear Lord, do not let us confine our prayer to words and ritual alone. Open our hearts and inspire our spirits to work and sacrifice for the hopes and dreams we ask of you. May every moment you give us be part of a continuous lifelong prayer of praise to you, you who is the giver and sustainer of all life.

Amen.


Friday 12th March


ALMSGIVING


Reading: Tobit12:8-9; Matt 6:1-4; Lk 11:41; Matt 25:31-46

Scripture:

“Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these little ones who are my brothers and sisters, you did for me”. (Matt 25:40).

Reflection:

Jesus invites every one of us, not to accomplish great things, but to give willingly of whatever we have for the sake of the common good. The measure of faithful discipleship is not the quantity and amount of money we give, but the spirit of generosity and joy that compels us to share the best gift we have with others. Life in Christ is not about serving others from the position of self-conscious superiority but about sharing our lives and goods with one another as equals.  

Daily Practice:

Make an effort to encounter Christ this lent in humility, in generosity, or the poverty of someone you have met. Let the small contribution we share in our homes, community or society make people happier.

Prayer:

Compassionate God, open our eyes to see you in the faces of the poor, the troubled, and the forgotten; open our hands to reach out to them in your hope and peace. May we give you thanks for your many blessings to us by seeking to share those blessings with all our sisters and brothers to make our homes, societies a holy place of welcome, forgiveness, and justice.

Amen.


Friday 19th March


FORGIVENESS

Readings: Dan 9:9; Matt 18:21-35; Heb 10:17; Psalm 130:3-4


Scripture:

Peter approached Jesus and asked Him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times”. (Matt 18:21-22).


Reflection:

Among Jesus’ dying words to God on our behalf is His consoling prayer as he dies. He ask God to forgive us for we do not know what we are doing. Just as those whose hatred or indifference put Jesus to death did not know what they were doing, neither do we really know what we are doing when we hate, are indifferent, or refuse to forgive ourselves or others. forgiving the other is first and foremost an inner movement. It is an act that removes anger, bitterness, and the desire for revenge from our hearts and helps us to reclaim our human dignity. We cannot also force those we want to forgive into accepting our forgiveness. They might not be able or willing to do so. They may not even know or feel that they have wounded us. The only people we can really change are ourselves. Forgiving others is first and foremost healing our own hearts.


Daily Practice:

Spend some time quieting your body and Spirit, and reflect on the presence of Christ forgiving love in you. Then let someone who needs your forgiveness come to mind. Say “I forgive you”, and if possible call the person and share your feelings and how you desire to better your relationship with the person. If you are unable, ask God for the grace to do so. This lent the Spirit of God longs to pour out love through us.


Prayer

Lord we thank you for the journey to grace that many of us have made during this lent. Keep our hearts expanding in your love so that we may generously extend forgiveness to others. Help us to take the small steps of love we need to take today.

Amen.


Friday 26 March


STATIONS OF THE CROSS


Reading: Mk 15:15-41; Jh 19:17-30; Is 53:4-7; Lk 9:22-25.


Scripture:

“If you wish to be a follower of mine, deny yourself and take up your cross each day and follow me. For if you choose to save your life, you will lose it, and if you lose your life for my sake, you will save it". (LK 9:23-24)


Reflection:

The way of the Cross, is a devotional walk, beginning near the Antonia fortress, believed to be the Praetorium, where Jesus appeared before the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate. There is no royal road to God; there is no modern, high-tech approach to the Gospel values of Justice and Mercy; there is no comfortable, easy alternative to taking up our own crosses as Jesus takes up his and walking the road Jesus walks to the Kingdom of God. The path to God begins outside of us; the Easter promise is fulfilled by the hard way of the cross. Each of us has a cross to carry. There is no need to make one or look for one. Maybe we can’t study, maybe we are handicapped, maybe we suffer from depression, maybe we experience conflict in our families, maybe we are victims of violence or abuse. We didn’t choose any of it, but these things are our crosses.


Daily Practice:

As you walk around, imagine the vast indifferent or even hostile, towards Jesus as He made His way up to Calvary. Think of the struggle you make to deny yourself in order to more fully live the Gospel of Jesus. Strive to embrace your joys as well as your sorrows.


Prayer:

Christ Jesus, give us the courage and conviction to take up our crosses. Help us to crucify our own narrow interests and self-centered wishes so that we may bring to our families and communities the joy and hope of Easter. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.


Friday 2 April


WASHING OF THE FEET


Reading: John 13:1-17; 1 Sam 25:41; Lk 7:44; Matt 23: 1-12

Scripture:

“If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet… (John 13: 14-15)

 

Reflection: 

Fear should never stop our feet from moving in the direction of the lost. There are going to be people who God puts in our lives who will only hear the Gospel through our humility. Put aside your own needs and wants and take up the task of preparing food for the poor. God walks with us, so let us never allow fear hinder us from being humble. Jesus exalts those whose leadership and influence over others are centered in humble, joyful service, in integrity and selflessness, in respect for hopes and dreams of others. In the spirit of Jesus washing the feet of His Apostles, let us see one another not as a demographic but as individual human beings with whom we share the dignity of being made in the image of God.

 

Daily Practice:

In a simple way imitate the attitude of Jesus the servant by opening our doors to the poor, the needy, the forgotten in our society with compassion and respect.

 

Prayer:

Father, source of love, inspire us with your son’s spirit of humility to realize that in our love for others we express our love for you, that in serving others we serve you, and that in giving to others we give thanks to you. As you washed the feet of your disciples, may we humbly and joyfully wash the feet of one another and allow others to wash our feet in a spirit of kindness and forgiveness.