Our Lenten Journey – Week 5

Fifth Thursday of Lent


Psalm 129

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord,
Lord, hear my voice!
O let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleading.

If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt,
Lord, who would survive?
But with you is found forgiveness:
for this we revere you.

My soul is waiting for the Lord.
I count on God’s word.
My soul is longing for the Lord
more than those who watch for daybreak.

Because with the Lord there is mercy
and fullness of redemption,
Israel indeed God will redeem
from all its iniquity.

Fifth Wednesday of Lent

you will not fail today
to show me your face,
speak to my heart,
and touch my soul with healing…

You will not fail today
to walk by my side,
to show me the way,
and lead me to where your peace awaits…

You will not fail today, Lord,
to help me carry the burdens I bear,
to be the light in my darkness
and to offer some joy in my sadness…

You will not fail today
to give me what I need,
everything I need,
to come to this day’s end
in peace…

So, help me then not fail this day
to look for you
and listen for your word, Lord;
to open my heart
to your presence and touch;
to find you at my side, guiding my way
and lifting me up each time I fall…

Help me not fail today, Lord,
to find and accept
your saving presence in my life,
in my heart and in my prayer…

This is the day that you’ve made, Lord,
and you will not fail
to live and walk it with me:
help me not fail
to live and walk it with you…


(c) Fr Austin Fleming aka ‘Concord Pastor’

Fifth Tuesday of Lent


25 years ago today (20 March 1993), two bombs exploded in Warrington Town Centre killing two little boys – Tim Parry and Johnathan Ball – and injuring scores of other people.

Today, as we remember Tim and Johnathan and their families, together with all those who bear the scars of that terrible day, let us pray:

Loving God,
welcome into your arms the victims of violence and terrorism.
Comfort their families and all who grieve for them.
Help us in our fear and uncertainty,
and bless us with the knowledge that we are secure in your love.
Strengthen all those who work for peace,
and may the peace the world cannot give reign in our hearts.

(Picture:  ‘Fountain of Life’ erected in memorial to Johnathan Ball and Tim Parry in Bridge Street, Warrington)


Fifth Monday of Lent


More ideas from the Church of England’s Lent Plastic Challenge:

  1. Avoid wet wipes.  These contain plastic fibres so don’t break down like toilet roll, despite often being described as flushable.
  2. Acquire used necessary plastic items instead of new.  Check second-hand shops, Freecycle or Freegle.  Look for sharing groups locally.
  3. Avoid the Mini bar snacks and drinks.  Not only are they incredibly expensive, but they all come in plastic packages or bottles.  Even if you can’t avoid plastic entirely, you can resist single serving sizes.

Fifth Sunday of Lent (B)


Gospel  (John 12: 20-33)

Among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. These approached Philip, who came from Bethsaida in Galilee, and put this request to him, ‘Sir, we should like to see Jesus.’ Philip went to tell Andrew, and Andrew and Philip together went to tell Jesus. Jesus replied to them:

‘Now the hour has come
for the Son of Man to be glorified.
I tell you, most solemnly,
unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies,
it remains only a single grain;
but if it dies,
it yields a rich harvest.
Anyone who loves his life loses it;
anyone who hates his life in this world
will keep it for the eternal life.
If a man serves me, he must follow me,
wherever I am, my servant will be there too.
If anyone serves me, my Father will honour him.
Now my soul is troubled.
What shall I say:
Father, save me from this hour?
But it was for this very reason that I have come to this hour.
Father, glorify your name!’
 A voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ People standing by, who heard this, said it was a clap of thunder; others said, ‘It was an angel speaking to him.’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not for my sake that this voice came, but for yours.

‘Now sentence is being passed on this world;
now the prince of this world is to be overthrown.
And when I am lifted up from the earth,
I shall draw all men to myself.’
 By these words he indicated the kind of death he would die.

Pondering the Gospel

As I come to prayer, I ask the Lord to help me be aware of his welcoming presence, and to offer anything that burdens me into his hands.

In time, I read through the Gospel text prayerfully. I may like to place myself within the scene, sensing the hustle and bustle of Passover, the different nationalities and languages … Jesus and his disciples nearby. I stay here for a while, noticing what stirs for me.

Perhaps I stand with the Greeks, sensing their eagerness to meet Jesus. Who is the Jesus that I would like to encounter? Is there something I would like to say to him? I take time to do that now, trusting that he listens to me with the greatest love and compassion.

Is there anyone in my life who might be asking me to introduce them to Jesus? I ask the Lord to show me.

Jesus is clear about the challenges of life in his service – and also clear about the promised reward. I ponder the ways in which Jesus himself comes to us as a loving servant. How does it feel as he invites me to work alongside him, as servants together? Where might he be calling me to follow him this day, this week?

I ask for any grace that I need, and the courage to respond with an open and generous heart.

In time I end my prayer, giving thanks for all that the Lord has done for me.

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


Father in heaven,
the love of your Son led him to accept the suffering of the cross
that his brothers and sisters might glory in new life.
Change our selfishness into self-giving.
Help us to embrace the world you have given us,
that we may transform the darkness of its pain
into the life and joy of Easter.
Through Christ our Lord.

(c) 1973 International Committee on English in the Liturgy Corporation.

Our Lenten Journey – Week 4

Fourth Saturday of Lent

Update on the Crisis in Syria from CAFOD

As Syria’s civil war enters its eighth year, it remains the worst humanitarian crisis of our time.

According to the UN, the conflict has killed over 400,000 people and caused large-scale displacement. An estimated 6.1 million Syrians have been made homeless inside the country, and more than half the country’s pre-war population, 13.1 million people, are in need of urgent humanitarian aid – food, water, shelter and protection.

Over 5.4 million Syrians have registered as refugees in neighbouring countries.

What is happening in Ghouta?

The conflict has intensified over the last few weeks and months, with a horrifying situation unfolding in Eastern Ghouta. Hundreds of civilian deaths have been reported and the UN has said 400,000 people are trapped in the besieged neighbourhoods east of Damascus.

Alan Thomlinson, CAFOD’s Syria Crisis Programme Manager, said: “We are outraged that civilians are being targeted by attacks on residential areas around Damascus. The devastating bombardment in Eastern Ghouta and Damascus is a stark reminder to us all that the conflict is not over in Syria.”

God of Compassion,
hear the cries of the people of Syria,
comfort those who suffer violence,
console those who mourn the dead,
give strength to Syria’s neighbouring countries
to welcome the refugees,
convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms,
and protect those who are committed to peace.

God of hope,
inspire leaders to choose peace over violence
and to seek reconciliation with their enemies,
inflame the Universal Church with compassion
for the people of Syria,
and give us hope for a future built on justice for all.
We ask this through Jesus Christ,
the Prince of Peace and Light of the world.

Archbishop Samir Nassar of Damascus

Fourth Friday of Lent

Today, let’s pray the Lenten Psalm – Psalm 50 – usually prayed on Fridays in the Morning Prayer of the Church.


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.

My offences truly I know them;
my sin is always before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned;
what is evil in your sight I have done.

That you may be justified when you give sentence
and be without reproach when you judge,
O see, in guilt I was born,
a sinner was I conceived.

Indeed you love truth in the heart;
then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom.
O purify me, then I shall be clean;
O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow.

Make me hear rejoicing and gladness,
that the bones you have crushed may revive.
From my sins turn away your face
and blot out all my guilt.

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.

Give me again the joy of your help;
with a spirit of fervour sustain me,
that I may teach transgressors your ways
and sinners may return to you.

O rescue me, God, my helper,
and my tongue shall ring out your goodness.
O Lord, open my lips
and my mouth shall declare your praise.

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.

In your goodness, show favour to Zion:
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will be pleased with lawful sacrifice,
holocausts offered on your altar.

Fourth Thursday of Lent

You call us to service;
to be your eyes and ears,
hands and voice in this your world.

To open our eyes not only
to the beauty and love which you create,
but the injustice,
hate and suffering that mankind generates.

To open our ears not only
to the chattering of this coming week,
but the searching,
fears and questioning of all whom we shall meet.

To open our hands not only
to those we choose our lives to share,
but in welcome,
love and fellowship to all who you draw near.

To open our mouths not only
to speak platitudes and simple words,
but the truths you lay upon our hearts.
Your Word for this your world.

You call us to service,
to be your eyes and ears,
hands and voice in this your world.

(c) 2016 John Birch

Fourth Wednesday of Lent


Over the past week, Lord,
I’ve found myself
sometimes feeling far away from you
and other times as close (or closer)
than ever I have been…

Though some days you seem distant
I know there’s not a moment,
day and night,
when you’re not by my side:
before me, behind me,
above me, below me,
within and beside me…

It’s your grace,
always your move, Lord,
that beckons,
calls me out of hiding,
sets me on the right path
and draws me home
into the warm embrace
of your strong and loving arms…

You never leave me, Lord
(you never have, you never will)
but I’ve a host of ways
to turn and hide from you,
from your word and from your truth,
closing my eyes
to your wisdom and counsel,
your guiding presence at my side…

For the times I’ve run away
(or tried to)
I ask your pardon, Lord,
and for the times you’ve brought me back
I give you thanks and praise…

Draw me close
when I’m inclined to lose my way
and let me never, never
be separated from you…


(c) Fr Austin Fleming aka ‘Concord Pastor’

Fourth Tuesday of Lent

Today, 13 March 2018, is the fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Francis.


God our Father, shepherd and guide,
look with love on Francis your servant,
the pastor of your Church.
May his word and example inspire and guide the Church,
and may he, and all those entrusted to his care,
come to the joy of everlasting life.
Through Christ our Lord.

“Giving thanks today on the 5th anniversary of the election of Pope Francis. The Holy Father has brought a pastors heart, an embrace of the most vulnerable and an example of Christ’s love to the entire world” (Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston).

Fourth Monday of Lent


More ideas from the Church of England’s Lent Plastic Challenge:

  1. Share your leftovers or unwanted food. Reduce waste by joining a food sharing network like Olio – check out their website.
  2. Choose natural fibres. Synthetic fabrics create microfibre pollution when washed. When buying new clothes look for organic cotton, wool and other natural fibres.
  3. Invest in quality. By doing so, you are minimising the demand for cheap items that end up in landfill. In the long run, it will save you money.

Fourth Sunday of Lent (B)


Gospel    (John 3: 14-21)

Jesus said to Nicodemus:

‘The Son of Man must be lifted up
as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.
Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost
but may have eternal life.
For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved.
No one who believes in him will be condemned;
but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already,
because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son.
On these grounds is sentence pronounced:
that though the light has come into the world
men have shown they prefer darkness to the light
because their deeds were evil.
And indeed, everybody who does wrong
hates the light and avoids it,
for fear his actions should be exposed;
but the man who lives by the truth comes out into the light,
so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.’

Pondering the Gospel

Read today’s Gospel passage slowly.  After you’ve read it, think for a moment:  are there any words or phrases that stand out for you?  If not, perhaps read the passage again.

What is ‘Good News’ for you in this passage?

If you’re struggling, perhaps mull over these lines:

God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life.

For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved.

Our Lenten Journey – Week 3

Third Saturday of Lent


Third Friday of Lent

Thinking about the readings for this coming Sunday, here’s the Second Reading – a beautiful passage from St Paul.

Ephesians 2: 4-10

God loved us with so much love that he was generous with his mercy: when we were dead through our sins, he brought us to life with Christ – it is through grace that you have been saved – and raised us up with him and gave us a place with him in heaven, in Christ Jesus.

This was to show for all ages to come, through his goodness towards us in Christ Jesus, how infinitely rich he is in grace. Because it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith; not by anything of your own, but by a gift from God; not by anything that you have done, so that nobody can claim the credit. We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he had meant us to live it.


Third Thursday of Lent


The Examen is a way of reviewing the day by St Ignatius Loyola – a time set aside to notice, in particular, the presence of God with me during the day.  There are five steps.  The whole exercise takes about 15 minutes.

  1. Ask God for light – to look at the day with God’s eyes, not just my own.
  2. Give thanks for the day – it has been a gift from God to me.
  3. Review the day – guided by the Holy Spirit, slowly look back over the day.
  4. Face your shortcomings – I recognise what is wrong in my life and in me.
  5. Look toward the day to come – I ask for God to be with me in the day to come.


Third Wednesday of Lent


Slow me down, Lord…

Especially when I can’t stop this merry-go-round on my own:
slow me down…

When my head and heart are filled with noise,
slow me down and show me a path to a quiet place…

When I’m standing still but moving at 60 inside,
put the brakes on and bring me to a stop by your side,
in a place where I can hear my own breathing
and the breath of your Spirit within me…

Help me hear my heart beat
and to trust that you listen to every beat…

Help me savour the silence
and find peace within it
and peace within my soul…

Help me make the time to find the calm,
to find the quiet I need
to hear the birds sing, the tide come in,
the sun rise and the moon wax full in the skies above…

Let me find the time, Lord, for the rhythms of my life
to slow down and rock me not to sleep but to peace,
to that serenity that only you can give…

Let this place and time of prayer become for me
a wellspring of sweet waters for a thirsty heart,
a place where I will want to come often, every day,
to draw and drink from its depths,
to slake my thirst for what truly satisfies
and gives me life…

Bring me to a quiet place, Lord,
wherever in my day that may be
and let me find the time to sit with you there
to drink in the peace that’s only yours to give…

Help me to be still, Lord,
that I might know that you are God,
that I might know that you are near…

(c) Fr Austin Fleming aka ‘Concord Pastor’

Third Tuesday of Lent

Today’s First Reading is the Prayer of Azariah.  Azariah prays to God on behalf of the community – begging forgiveness for the sins of the people.

Azariah recognised God as gentle and very merciful.  As we come to know our Lord, we discover the same.  We can always come to him with our burden of sin, knowing that he will understand, forgive and help us to get back on the right road again.

Daniel 3: 25, 34-43

Azariah stood in the heart of the fire, and he began to pray:

Oh! Do not abandon us for ever,
for the sake of your name;
do not repudiate your covenant,
do not withdraw your favour from us,
for the sake of Abraham, your friend,
of Isaac your servant,
and of Israel your holy one,
to whom you promised descendants as countless as the stars of heaven
and as the grains of sand on the seashore.
Lord, now we are the least of all the nations,
now we are despised throughout the world, today, because of our sins.
We have at this time no leader, no prophet, no prince,
no holocaust, no sacrifice, no oblation, no incense,
no place where we can offer you the first-fruits
and win your favour.
But may the contrite soul, the humbled spirit be as acceptable to you
as holocausts of rams and bullocks,
as thousands of fattened lambs:
such let our sacrifice be to you today,
and may it be your will that we follow you wholeheartedly,
since those who put their trust in you will not be disappointed.
And now we put our whole heart into following you,
into fearing you and seeking your face once more.
Do not disappoint us;
treat us gently, as you yourself are gentle
and very merciful.
Grant us deliverance worthy of your wonderful deeds,
let your name win glory, Lord.

Third Monday of Lent


More ideas from the Church of England’s Lent Plastic Challenge:

  1. Disposable razors and razor blades are two of the biggest contributors to plastic waste. Why not think about using a razor with removable blades.
  2. Fresh food markets are not only often cheaper and fresher than supermarkets, but they sell fruit and vegetables loose. Why not try and do some of your shopping at markets – don’t forget to take your reusable bags!
  3. Buy fresh bread that comes in either paper bags or no bags. This eliminates plastic wrapping waste from shop bought bread and you help support local businesses.

Third Sunday of Lent (B)

This year, the First Readings on the Sundays of Lent recall the covenants God made with his people in the Old Testament.  So, on the First Sunday of Lent, we heard how God made a covenant with Noah.  Last Sunday, we heard about the covenant God made with Abraham.  Today, we hear about the covenant God made with Moses in the form of Ten Commandments.


Exodus 20: 1-3, 7-8, 12-17

God spoke all these words. He said, ‘I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
‘You shall have no gods except me.
‘You shall not utter the name of the Lord your God to misuse it, for the Lord will not leave unpunished the man who utters his name to misuse it.
‘Honour your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God has given to you.
‘You shall not kill.
‘You shall not commit adultery.
‘You shall not steal.
‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
‘You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his servant, man or woman, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is his.’


I don’t think any of us could quibble with any of those commandments.  They make sense and they’ve stood the test of time.  But they’re more than a list of rules.  They show us how to live in relationship with God and other people.  They can also be summed up in Christ’s new commandment, which we will celebrate on Holy Thursday evening – ‘love one another as I have loved you’.


God of the covenant,
you are full of compassion and faithfulness,
slow to anger and abounding in love.
In Jesus, your word to us was always “yes”
and in him we hear the yes to all your promises.
Open our hearts that we respond to your great gifts
so that all we do and say and are
may be a yes to you from the depths of our hearts.

(cf. www.tarsus.ie)