Our Lenten Journey – Week 2

Second Saturday of Lent

A thought about fasting from Pope Francis:

“Fasting makes us more alert and attentive to God and our neighbour, and reminds us that He alone can satisfy our hunger.”

Second Friday of Lent

Today, the first Friday in March, is Women’s World Day of Prayer.

World Day of Prayer is:
• A worldwide prayer movement
• The largest ecumenical movement in the world
• Involving women and men of all ages and denominations
• Encouraging informed prayer and prayerful action 365 days of the year
• A voice for women in countries where they have no other voice
• Part of a huge unstoppable wave of prayer on one special day each year

This year’s Prayer Service has the theme “All God’s Creation is Very Good!” It is written by the Christian women of Suriname who focus on creation and our responsibility to care and look after it.

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In the beginning, God created from chaos. But everything that was created found its place in creation. All were related to each other – the earth with the light, the waters with the sky, the tree seeds with the living creatures, and humankind with God. None could exist without the other, and the source of all was God. There was goodness in that integrated system of relationships. But essential to that was the commitment to care. And we know that we are failing!

Women from Suriname lift up their voices to remind us that we are caretakers of God’s creation! They are bringing to our attention the urgent need for caring at a time when more than 180 countries have signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. A commitment to keep the earth cooler depends on public policies implemented by governments, but also on our personal lifestyle.

How good is God’s creation? That is the question to meditate and respond to with a personal commitment to care for creation. What is it that we can do to keep God’s creation good?

Second Thursday of Lent

praying-hands

For each step that we might take:
Be our guide, O Lord of life.
For each load that we might bear:
Be our strength, O Lord of life.
For each mountain we might face:
Be our power, O Lord of life.
For each river that might impede:
Be our safety, O Lord of life.
For each place where we might rest:
Be our peace, O Lord of life.
For each sunrise and sunset:
Be our joy, O Lord of life.

Copyright © John Birch, 2016

Second Wednesday of Lent

Simply this…

whatever-ive-done

Second Tuesday of Lent

Today’s First Reading (cf. Isaiah 1: 10, 16-20) begins by reminding us that social justice is integral to religion:

Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the command of our God,
you people of Gomorrah.
‘Wash, make yourselves clean.
Take your wrong-doing out of my sight.
Cease to do evil.
Learn to do good,
search for justice,
help the oppressed,
be just to the orphan,
plead for the widow.’

The second part of the reading reminds us of God’s forgiveness:

‘Come now, let us talk this over,
says the Lord.
Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
‘If you are willing to obey,
you shall eat the good things of the earth.
But if you persist in rebellion,
the sword shall eat you instead.’

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Second Monday of Lent

lent-plastic-challenge2

Some months ago, Sky News launched ‘Ocean Rescue’ – a campaign to tackle the overwhelming amount of plastic pollution threatening our seas and wildlife.  If things go on as they are, by 2050 there could well be more plastic than fish (by weight) in our seas!

Plastic bags and produce bags in particular are often used for minutes before being discarded. Most plastic bags are not recycled and either end up in landfills or on the street or in the sea.  When you go shopping, instead of buying a plastic bag, why not take a reusable bag with you?  It’s a little thing, but if we all did it, it would make a massive difference.

Second Sunday of Lent (B)

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Gospel  (Mark 9: 2-10)

Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone by themselves. There in their presence he was transfigured: his clothes became dazzlingly white, whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them. Elijah appeared to them with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter spoke to Jesus: ‘Rabbi,’ he said ‘it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say; they were so frightened. And a cloud came, covering them in shadow; and there came a voice from the cloud, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.’ Then suddenly, when they looked round, they saw no one with them any more but only Jesus.

As they came down from the mountain he warned them to tell no one what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They observed the warning faithfully, though among themselves they discussed what ‘rising from the dead’ could mean.

Praying with the Gospel

As I come to my place of prayer, I remember that God gazes on me with great compassion, mercy and love.

I begin slowly, taking time to come to stillness in the presence of God, in whatever way is right for me. I ask the Holy Spirit to help me as I pray. I do not rush.

When I am ready, I read the words of the Gospel. I may like to imagine being led up the mountain by Jesus, with the apostles.

What is it like for us to be alone with Jesus?

As Jesus reveals the glory that is his as the Son of God, I listen to Peter’s reaction. How do I respond to Jesus? I share with him.

I hear the voice say, “This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.” What does the Lord Jesus want me to know and understand as I listen to him today? Perhaps I ask him.

As I come back to my daily life from my place of prayer, how am I called to respond to others? For what grace do I need to pray?

Towards the end of my time of prayer, I take a few moments to notice how I am thinking and feeling now. I share with the Lord.

I end my prayer slowly, giving thanks.

(From St Beuno’s Outreach, Diocese of Wrexham)


Our Lenten Journey – Week 1

First Saturday of Lent

Circle us, Lord
Circle us with the light of your presence within this dark world
Enable us to be overcomers of fear and temptation
Enable us to be victors over sin and despair
Enable us to become that which you would desire
Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation
Circle us with the light of your presence

Circle us, Lord
Circle our family within the shelter of your outstretched arms
Protect them in each moment of their daily lives
Protect them in the decisions that they face
Protect their homes and relationships
Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation
Circle our families with the light of your presence

Circle us, Lord
Circle this world with the joy of your Salvation
Where there is sickness and disease bring healing
Where there is hunger and despair bring hope
Where there is torture and oppression bring release
Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation
Circle this world with the light of your presence

© John Birch 2016

First Friday of Lent

Today, we are invited to fast and pray.

It’s CAFOD’s Lent Fast Day – one of two fast days in the year that help to fund the official aid agency for the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

Pope Francis has invited all people of goodwill to join him today in a Day of Fasting and Prayer for the war-torn people of the Democratic Republic of Congo and of South Sudan.

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Prayer

Everlasting God,
we give you thanks
for you nourish and strengthen us with your merciful love.
Give us this day our daily bread.

We pray for those who hunger in scorched lands,
with no food for their children.
Together, we cry out for justice.
Give us this day our daily bread.

Help us to share generously as one global family,
and to hold onto hope for a world transformed.
Bread of life,
we pray your people
may find life and joy in all its fullness.
Amen.

(By Rachel McCarthy/CAFOD)

 

First Thursday of Lent

Today’s Scriptures give us the beautiful Psalm, ‘The Lord’s my shepherd’:

Psalm 22(23)
The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures
where he gives me repose.
Near restful waters he leads me,
to revive my drooping spirit.

He guides me along the right path;
he is true to his name.
If I should walk in the valley of darkness
no evil would I fear.
You are there with your crook and your staff;
with these you give me comfort.

You have prepared a banquet for me
in the sight of my foes.
My head you have anointed with oil;
my cup is overflowing.

Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me
all the days of my life.
In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell
for ever and ever.

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First Wednesday of Lent

Today’s Psalm is part of the Lenten Psalm – Psalm 50.  Why not make it your prayer for today?

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.
In your compassion blot out my offence.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.

A pure heart create for me, O God,
put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

For in sacrifice you take no delight,
burnt offering from me you would refuse,
my sacrifice, a contrite spirit.
A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.

First Tuesday of Lent

Today’s Gospel gives us the prayer we now know as ‘the Lord’s Prayer’:

lords-prayer

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘In your prayers do not babble as the pagans do, for they think that by using many words they will make themselves heard. Do not be like them; your Father knows what you need before you ask him. So you should pray like this:

‘Our Father in heaven,
may your name be held holy,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven those who are in debt to us.
And do not put us to the test,
but save us from the evil one.

 ‘Yes, if you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours; but if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failings either.’

(Matthew 6: 7-15)

Prayer

Today why not pray the Lord’s Prayer, but stop at the end of each line for a moment and think about the words you’ve just said before moving on to the next line.

First Monday of Lent

In yesterday’s First Reading, God made a covenant with Noah.  But the covenant wasn’t just with Noah, it was with Noah and ‘every living creature of every kind’ (cf. Genesis 9: 8-15).  Plastic waste is not only harming our environment, but is killing marine life and causing suffering to many of God’s creatures. So, today, something from the Church of England’s Lent Plastic Challenge.

Give up disposable cups and drinks in plastic bottles.  Carry a travel mug or water bottle. Get a reusable bottle, fill it up with tap water before leaving the house, and refill it wherever you happen to be.

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First Sunday of Lent (B)

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Gospel  (Mark 1: 12-15)

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness and he remained there for forty days, and was tempted by Satan. He was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him.

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’

Thought

The season of Lent could be seen as our time in the wilderness – a kind of annual retreat – forty days to give something up or do something extra to help us to get back into shape as Christians.

Have I decided how to use this special time, or am I still wondering what would help me to come a little closer to the Lord?  If you’re still undecided, why not talk to the Lord about it – ask him to guide and inspire you.

Prayer

God our Father,
as we begin our Lenten journey,
help us to use this time
to become more like your Son, Jesus Christ,
who is Lord for ever and ever.


Our Lenten Journey – Introduction

Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Lord Jesus, when I am sad and depressed,
help me think of you praying in the garden.

Lord Jesus, when I am fearful,
help me to think of you being taken prisoner.

Lord Jesus, when I am ill,
help me to think of you being scourged at the pillar.

Lord Jesus, when I have a headache,
help me to think of you wearing the crown of thorns.

Lord Jesus, when I am tired,
help me to think of you carrying the cross for love of me.

Lord Jesus, when I am humiliated,
help me to think of you being stripped of your garments.

Lord Jesus, when I am in pain,
help me to think of you being nailed to the cross.

Lord Jesus, when I am lonely,
help me to think of you hanging on the cross.

Lord Jesus, when I am dying,
help me to think of you dying on the cross for love of me.

Lord Jesus, help me to remember
how much you suffered for love of me,
and help me to love you more and more.

Amen.

(From CAFOD’s Lenten Meditation)

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Friday after Ash Wednesday

Today’s First Reading (cf. Isaiah 58:1-9) describes the kind of fasting that pleases the Lord:

Thus says the Lord:
‘Look, you do business on your fast-days,
you oppress all your workmen;
look, you quarrel and squabble when you fast
and strike the poor man with your fist.

Fasting like yours today
will never make your voice heard on high.
Is that the sort of fast that pleases me,
a truly penitential day for men?

Hanging your head like a reed,
lying down on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call fasting,
a day acceptable to the Lord?

Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me
– it is the Lord who speaks –
to break unjust fetters and
undo the thongs of the yoke,

to let the oppressed go free,
and break every yoke,
to share your bread with the hungry,
and shelter the homeless poor,

to clothe the man you see to be naked
and not turn from your own kin?
Then will your light shine like the dawn
and your wound be quickly healed over.

Your integrity will go before you
and the glory of the Lord behind you.
Cry, and the Lord will answer;
call, and he will say, ‘I am here.’

fastabstain

Thursday after Ash Wednesday

An excerpt from today’s First Reading (cf. Deuteronomy 30:15-20) to ponder:

Moses said to the people… ‘If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I enjoin on you today, if you love the Lord your God and follow his ways, if you keep his commandments, his laws, his customs, you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to make your own. But if your heart strays, if you refuse to listen, if you let yourself be drawn into worshipping other gods and serving them, I tell you today, you will most certainly perish.’

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Ash Wednesday

Today’s First Reading (cf. Joel 2: 12-18) contains an invitation to each one of us from our Lord: “Now, now – it is the Lord who speaks – come back to me with all your heart.”

The season of Lent is about responding to that invitation – coming back to our Lord “for he is all tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in graciousness, and ready to relent.”

How do I want to respond to the Lord’s invitation to me this Lent?

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6th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel
Mark 1: 40-45

A leper came to Jesus and pleaded on his knees: ‘If you want to’ he said ‘you can cure me.’ Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. ‘Of course I want to!’ he said. ‘Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once and he was cured. Jesus immediately sent him away and sternly ordered him, ‘Mind you say nothing to anyone, but go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your healing prescribed by Moses as evidence of your recovery.’ The man went away, but then started talking about it freely and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but had to stay outside in places where nobody lived. Even so, people from all around would come to him.

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Reflection

The Gospel reading reminds us of Jesus’s concern for the sick and for those who are excluded by illness or medical condition from taking a full part in society or the Church.

Jesus demonstrates his power over the dreadful affliction of leprosy by curing the sick man. He was not afraid to reach out and touch the leper. This gesture in itself is quite an amazing thing to do because we so often step back from our brothers and sisters who have a disease or need assistance. Jesus shows how to relate to such people who need our help, and to do it willingly.

After the man had been freed from leprosy, despite being told to keep these events to himself, he started telling his story everywhere – and who can blame him? The twist in the story comes at the end when roles are reversed. The leper would have had to live outside the town because of his condition but can now take his place among others, while Jesus who had moved around freely, preaching his message of salvation now has ‘to stay outside in places where nobody lived’. The act of reaching out to the leper has cost Jesus his freedom, soon it will cost him his life.

(Archbishop Malcolm McMahon)

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Prayer

O God,
in Jesus you stretch out your hand to touch the unclean,
to love the unlovely,
and to draw even the most despised and excluded
into the circle of your beloved disciples and friends.
Embraced by such love,
make us eager to reach out to others
in welcome, love and mercy.
Through Christ our Lord.

(Adapted from ‘Prayers for Sundays and Seasons’ by Peter J Scagnelli)

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TEN IDEAS FOR LENT

Thinking about what to do for Lent?  See this week’s newsletter for ideas for adults and children.


5th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel

Mark 1: 29-39

On leaving the synagogue, Jesus went with James and John straight to the house of Simon and Andrew. Now Simon’s mother-in-law had gone to bed with fever, and they told him about her straightaway. He went to her, took her by the hand and helped her up. And the fever left her and she began to wait on them.

That evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils. The whole town came crowding round the door, and he cured many who were suffering from diseases of one kind or another; he also cast out many devils, but he would not allow them to speak, because they knew who he was.

In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. Simon and his companions set out in search of him, and when they found him they said, ‘Everybody is looking for you.’ He answered, ‘Let us go elsewhere, to the neighbouring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.’ And he went all through Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out devils.

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Reflection

Today’s Gospel completes a picture of Jesus’ ministry: preaching, curing the sick, driving out demons, and then moving on to continue this work in another place. Mark’s Gospel tells us that Jesus did this throughout Galilee.

Jesus’ compassion and healing of the sick is a sign of the Kingdom of God. The Church continues to extend Christ’s healing presence to others in its ministry to the sick. In the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, the Church prays for spiritual and physical healing, forgiveness of sins, and comfort for those who are suffering from illness.

In today’s Gospel we also notice the importance of prayer in Jesus’ daily life. Jesus rose early in the morning, removed himself from the crowds, and went to a deserted place to pray. When the disciples found him, he told them that it was time to move on. We believe that in his prayers Jesus found guidance and direction from God. We also bring our decision-making to God in prayer, asking for his guidance and direction in our lives.

(From ‘Loyola Press – A Jesuit Ministry’)

Prayer

Out of your power and compassion, O God,
you sent your Son into our afflicted world
to proclaim the day of salvation.

Heal the broken-hearted;
bind up our wounds,
bring us health of body and spirit
and raise to us to new life in your service.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.