Fasting, Praying and Acting during the Sixth Week of Lent
“Love your Neighbor as Yourself.” (Mk. 12:31)
“Building Bridges that Foster a Culture of Caring.” Pope Francis
In his message on the 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees in 2021 Pope Francis invited all people to “make every effort to break down the walls that separate us and, in acknowledging our profound interconnection, build bridges that foster a culture of encounter.”
He went on to say that “Today’s migration movements offer an opportunity for us to overcome our fears and let ourselves be enriched by the diversity of each person’s gifts.”
He summarized his hopes on immigration by stating that “if we so desire, we can transform borders into privileged places of encounter, where the miracle of an ever wider “we” can come about.”
During Holy Week, we invite you to: mend your heart by fasting from Individualism and Exclusion; bend your knees while engaging in Visio Divina on the Passion of Christ; and lend your hand through acts of courage.
- Mending our Heart by Fasting from Individualism and Exclusion
- Putting ourselves first as an individual and even as a nation is rather popular these days, here and abroad. Individualism and nationalism are celebrated by many, also by some Christians even though both are antithetical to Christianity.
- Christianity is rooted in Jesus’ willingness to give his life for others. This is as far removed from individualism and nationalism as one can possibly imagine. Followers of Jesus are called to do the same. In the words of St. Francis: “…it is in giving that we receive…and in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
- Lent is the perfect time to practice fasting from putting ourselves first by putting the needs of others before our own. The end goal is to embody in our own lives the sacrificial life of Jesus.
- Bending our Knees by engaging in Visio Divina on the Passion of Christ
- As we try to live out our Christian calling Holy Week is the perfect time yto meditate on the Passion of Jesus. One way of doing that is through Visio Divina or Divine Seeing. This is an intentional and prayerful contemplation of an image of the crucifixion. The objective is to allow God to speak through the art in a most profound way.
- As you prepare for Visio Divina select an image of the crucifixion.
- Visio: Spend some time contemplating the art you selected. What is it you see? If you are using a figurative representation, ask yourself who and what is represented in the image. If non-figurative, consider the shapes, the forms, and the colors. Feel free to write down any words that come to mind.
- Meditatio: Let your imagination dialogue with what you see. There is always more to an image than what the eyes behold. Is a deeper story forming in your imagination? Are you experiencing any specific feelings or emotions? Again, feel free to write down any words that come to mind.
- Oratio: Formulate a prayer response. This can be a prayer of gratitude, or it might be a prayer of intercessions. Feel free to use the words you have written down in step 1 or 2.
- Contemplatio: Let go of all words and to quietly rest in prayer. Give yourself over to God who will mold you in prayer.
- Actio: did any action come to mind you might take after
- An example of a semi-guided Visio Divina may be found on the University of Portland website: https://www.up.edu/campusministry/resources-for-spiritual-growth/viso-divina.html
- Lending our Hands through Acts of Courage
- The Joy of Christianity gives us the courage to speak and act on behalf of those in need without any fear as we strive for a better world, the kind of world God has dreamt for us.
- This week as we contemplate the suffering of Christ, let us think about the many injustices and concerns that plague our world and ask ourselves how we can make a difference in terms of racial justice, adequate housing, mental health funding, the care for the unborn, health insurance for all, immigrants and asylum seekers, the death penalty, endless cycles of poverty, gun violence…
- As the world is experiencing yet another mass migration as the result of the war in Ukraine let’s learn about ways to engage with The Basilica Immigrant Support Ministry at www.mary.org/immigration or with the Minnesota Interfaith Coalition on Immigration at https://mnicom.org/
And please remember to be patient with yourself and others. Lent is neither an endurance test nor a time to prove our Christian heroism. 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.