As we embark on the Second Week of Lent we invite you to consider the following suggestions for the three Lenten disciplines of fasting, prayer and charity. These can either be in addition to last week’s suggestions or you can start anew.
I recently came across a wonderful article by Fr. Jerry Kurian, a Syriac Orthodox priest. In it he proposes that our Lenten fasting and abstinence are fir naught if these do not change our hearts. Lent he says is a time to learn anew how to bend our knees, mend our hearts, and lend our hands. This is truly a beautiful description of what we are called to do during Lent and in fact, throughout our entire Christian Journey.
Mending our Hearts: Fasting from Gossip
- On a number of occasions, Pope Francis has declared gossip to be rotten and poisonous. At first, he suggests that it seems to be something enjoyable and fun, like a piece of candy. But at the end, “it fills the heart with bitterness and also poisons us.”
- Gossip not only hurts other people and brings them down it is also contrary to our Christian way of life. As Pope Francis notes: “a loving community, a caring community, a Christian community is a community that is free from gossip.”
- Fasting from gossip requires great attention to our feelings about others. It also requires a careful and disciplined use of language. Lent is the perfect time to “soften our hardened hearts and to silence our sharpened tongues.”
Bending our Knees: Praying the Station of the Cross
- Praying the Stations of the Cross is an ancient Christian devotion which invites us to meditate on the mystery of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. A history of this devotion is offered in this week’s Art that Surrounds Us: https://www.mary.org/blog/202102/art-surrounds-us-stations-cross#.YDU4dNhKiJA .
- On Fridays of Lent we pray the Stations of the Cross at 5:30pm. You can join us in person or via livestream. Each Friday we will pray a different version of the Stations of the Cross both in terms of the text and the images that are used. If you join us in person a QR code will allow you to see the images. For those at home you will see the image on your screen.
- If you would like to pray the Stations of the Cross at home you can use the weekly recorded livestream or you can find a narrated slideshow of our Scriptural Stations at https://vimeo.com/403088034. These stations were commissioned by The Basilica of Saint Mary from local artist Lucinda Naylor and master printer Steven Anderson to mark the second millennium of Christianity. The art was inspired by Scripture while the meditations by Johan van Parys were inspired by the art.
Lending our Hands: Charitable Giving of Blood
- During the Season of Lent we give thanks for Jesus’ willingness to die for us on the cross. This act has deep sacrificial meaning and great theological implications for all of us.
- May Jesus’ willingness to give his blood so that we might live inspire us to donate our blood to save the lives of others. This is particularly important during this pandemic, especially for those who have developed antibodies to the virus.
- All blood banks are in need, now more than ever. To donate blood you can contact the Red Cross at www.redcrossblood.org/give or the Memorial Blood Center at www.mbcherohub.club
And please remember to be patient with yourself and others. Lent is neither an endurance test nor a time to prove our Christian stamina. Rather, Lent is a time to slow down and ponder what is essential to our faith and thus to our life as Christians. So please pace yourselves. Give yourself and others the necessary space. And above all be patient with yourself and others.