Saturday After Ash Wednesday — Feb 17 — Here

The readings from the daily Mass for the Saturday After Ash Wednesday inspire hope and faith at this early stage in our Lenten Journey:

Is 58:9-14
Psalm 86:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Lk 5:27-32

The 86th Psalm is one of my favorites.  It sets the tone of a faithful David pleading to the God to hear him, to take pity on him, to answer his prayer.

The Psalmist has abundant faith in God and a strong hope that God will hear his prayer and answer his plea.

I hope that as you mindfully continue your journey and take stock to see where you are, like checking that “you are here” map at the mall and/or vast public areas, hope finds you here as well.

This Lent, it seems like hope has been the recurring theme that comes up to me in the readings and in my daily observance of the “Lenten discipline.”  Not the wish washy hope of hoping it is not going to rain on a cloudy day.  But the solid as a rock hope that the Psalmist had in God’s interaction in their life, and can be had in yours with that same hope:

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.  Hearken, O Lord, to my prayer and attend to the sound of my pleading.  Ps 86:5-6

Friday After Ash Wednesday — Feb. 16 — Here

The readings from today’s Friday After Ash Wednesday Mass in the Roman Rite are:

Is 58:1-9
Ps 51 3-4, 5-6, 18-19
Mt 9:14-15

The verses that spoke most to me from today’s readings were these from the reading from the prophet Isaiah:

This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.

Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall be quickly healed… Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer, you shall cry for help and God will say: Here I am!  If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation, and malicious speech.

Setting out to draw closer to God can be daunting and seem like slow progress.  The little failures in sacrificing those things we gave up or in acting in those ways we promised to act to be more holy, more like Christ may get us down this early in the journey.  If you’ve had some setbacks thus far, don’t give up.  Hold on to that firm hope in being healed and in Christ’s presence.  “Then your light will break forth like the dawn…”  Does that sound like a vengeful God? or a loving God?

The collect from today’s Episcopal liturgy enriches this call to hope:

Support us, O Lord, with your gracious favor through the fast we have begun; that as we observe it by bodily self-denial, so we may fulfill it with inner sincerity of heart; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday After Ash Wednesday — Feb 15 — Here

The readings from today’s Thursday After Ash Wednesday Mass in the Roman Rite were:

Deut 30:15-20
Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4+6
Lk 9:22-25

We’ve finished our first full day of Lent and begun our second day.

We’ve embarked further on that journey of consciously foregoing that which we may have “given up” for Lent which distracts us from being aware of God’s great love for us and drawing closer into that awareness and to God.  We’ve also continued further along on that journey of consciously doing those actions, those intentions, those thoughts we are taking on for Lent in order to be more virtuous, more holy, more Christ-centric in our day to day lives.

Regardless of if you have given up something for Lent or if you have taken on a new discipline for Lent, or if you’re doing a little bit of both, how have you done?

Does the thought of not partaking of, or not doing, or not eating, or not saying, or not drinking that which you may have given up for the next 39 days of Lent make you anxious?

Does the thought of doing those things you may have taken on as a new discipline to draw you closer to God — visiting the sick, writing one’s you care about, praying for those you find hard to, praying regularly, reading scripture, taking time to have a quiet time with Christ every day — for the next 39 days of Lent make you anxious?

Have you failed at one or the other?  Are you beating yourself up for failing?

If you’ve experienced any of these anxieties or frustrations this 2nd day of Lent, take a moment to be mindful and assess the situation.  In your successes or your failures of yesterday and today, where were you?  Where was Christ?

Was the sacrifices so easy to do that you had no need to think of Christ?  Or were they so hard you failed and didn’t call on Christ?

In our reading from Deuteronomy, Moses enjoins the people, “Today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and doom.  If you obey the commandments of the Lord, your God… loving him, and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees, you will live and grow numerous, and the Lord, your God, will bless you in the land you are entering…

God offers life and prosperity.  If you’ve been anxious about your sacrifices and doings for Lent and whether or not you’ll succeed.  Be mindful.  Take assessment.  Call on Christ to draw you closer as you journey through Lent.

The Psalmist said it best in Psalm 1 when he sung, “Happy the one who… delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on God’s law day and night.”

Take delight in this journey of doing and foregoing in order to increase your awareness of God’s presence.

You are here, on this Lenten journey, in the presence of Christ.  You are here now.  Christ is here now and always.  Stay mindful of that as you continue your Lenten journey.

The opening collect from the Episcopal Rite for Ash Wednesday seems like “food for the journey” to close our second day of Lenten travels with and to strengthen us:

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, on God, for ever and ever. Amen

Ash Wednesday – Feb. 14 – Here

The readings from today’s Ash Wednesday Mass in the Roman Rite were:

Joel 2:12-18
2 Cor 5:20 – 6:2
Ps. 51:3-6,12-14,17
Mt 6:1-6,16-18

Our Lenten journey has begun.

If you attended Mass today, you may have heard the prescribed readings above.  We’ve barely begun and the readings above at first glance seem to be all over the place from the post-covenant prophecy times of Joel, to the post-resurrectional writings of St. Paul to the Corinthians, to David’s lamentation seeking God’s presence again in his life, to Jesus instructing his followers on prayer.

Don’t let these reading intimidate you as you embark on your Lenten journey.  Don’t get distracted by all of the commands to return, to reform, to seek help, to pray.  Most of all, don’t be intimidated by the ashes and the cross you were signed with today.  Stop.  Pause.  Be present.  Find that “you are here” map in your meditation on todays reading and know this:

God is moved by your desire to grow closer to him – “Rend your hearts and not your garments, and return to the Lord, Your God, for gracious and merciful is God… Then the Lord was stirred with concern for his land and took pity on his people.” – Joel 2:13,18

God hears you and helps you – “For he says, ‘In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.'” – 2 Cor 6:2

Proclaim God’s Praise – “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.” Ps 51

God sees you and hears you  – “But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.  And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”  Mt 6:6

You are here.  You are God’s and God wants nothing more than to help you grow in that awareness that you are close to his heart and he sees you and knows you.  You are here now.  God is here now.  Stay anchored in that as your Lenten journey continues.

O God, as I start off on this Lenten Journey today, guide each step I take these 40 days to be closer to You.  Help me to see the many ways you hear my prayers and aid me.  May I praise you with gratitude and a loving heart for all your many blessings.  Help me to grow in my awareness of your presence in and around me.  I ask this through Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

 

Mardi Gras – February 13 – Contemplating the Discipline of Lent

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday.

If you are like me, you may still be contemplating what you are “giving up” for Lent.  The thought of Lent may conjure up negative images — fasting, self sacrifice, our sinfulness and need of redemption.  By so doing, you may hope to prepare for celebrating Easter by reforming your life and going to confession.

Maybe, instead of focusing on giving up and sacrifice and sin, you are focusing on doing something for Lent.  You commit to doing some kind of virtuous act each of the 40 days of Lent.  By so doing, you may hope to prepare for celebrating Christ’s resurrection on Easter by growing in virtue and becoming holier just as God is Holy.

Perhaps you prepare for celebrating Easter by doing a little bit of both as you journey through Lent shedding all that which is dead and brings no life nor joy to your life and doing those things that lead to joy and life and centering your life and actions around God’s sacred presence in our midst.

Regardless of which path you have chosen for Lent, I hope you will join me in reflecting deeper on the readings from the daily Mass as celebrated in the Roman Rite.  I chose these readings, even though I am an independent catholic priest, because these readings help us celebrate the 40 days of Lent as a journey to be enjoyed and not one to be dreaded.

Prayer for embarking on a blessed Lenten journey:

Oh Christ Jesus, as I begin to embark on this Lenten journey, help me to know your presence, give me strength to shed those things that deter me from growing closer to you, grant me the courage to walk in the example and way that you set, and protect me from all temptation and disappointment over any stumbling blocks that come my way during this sacred Lenten journey.  Keep me focused on who I am, where I am, where I am going, and what I am celebrating as I journey closer to you and celebrating your resurrection this Easter.  May I come to know You more and serve You more who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God for evermore.  Amen  

Novena to St. Michael the Archangel and All the Angels — Day 9

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Novena Prayer

O all you Holy Angels, who contemplate unceasingly the uncreated
 beauty of the Divinity, in company with our ever glorious Queen,
 I present and offer to you this novena not only as a means of
obtaining favors

(here specify your request)

but also as a reparation for my past ingratitude, and that of all men.
 Deign to accept it, O amiable Spirits, in union with the love and
 devotion of such saints as were especially devout to you, and obtain
 for me the grace to spend this life fervently that it may be the
 commencement of that blessed life which I hope to live forever
 with you in heaven.

O God, who with wonderful order has regulated the functions of angels and men, grant that those who always assist before Thy throne in heaven may defend my life here on earth, through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.  Amen.

Prayer of the day

St. Michael, the Archangel, Defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Power of God, cast
 into hell, Satan and all the evil spirits, who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
 As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O most glorious Prince, Michael, the Archangel,
 be mindful of us, here and everywhere, and always pray to the Son of God for us.

I will praise You, O God, in the sight of Your Angels.  
I will adore You in Your holy Temple and I will confess Your Name.

Let us pray:  
O God, Who hast in an admirable order disposed the ministry of angels and of
 men, grant in Your goodness that our life on earth may be protected by those who in heaven always assist before Your throne ready to do Your will. Through Our Lord, Jesus Christ.  
Amen.

Day 9 Prayer

Most holy Angels, you whose zeal for the interest of God, wherever they need to be defended, carries you through the universe more rapidly than lightning, protect God’s cause in our souls, and in virtue of the Divine Blood, obtain for us the luminous grace of final perseverance. Amen.

Novena to St. Michael the Archangel and All The Angels — Day 8

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Novena Prayer

O all you Holy Angels, who contemplate unceasingly the uncreated
 beauty of the Divinity, in company with our ever glorious Queen,
 I present and offer to you this novena not only as a means of
obtaining favors

(here specify your request)

but also as a reparation for my past ingratitude, and that of all men.
 Deign to accept it, O amiable Spirits, in union with the love and
 devotion of such saints as were especially devout to you, and obtain
 for me the grace to spend this life fervently that it may be the
 commencement of that blessed life which I hope to live forever
 with you in heaven.

O God, who with wonderful order has regulated the functions of angels and men, grant that those who always assist before Thy throne in heaven may defend my life here on earth, through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.  Amen.

Prayer of the day

St. Michael, the Archangel, Defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Power of God, cast
 into hell, Satan and all the evil spirits, who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
 As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O most glorious Prince, Michael, the Archangel,
 be mindful of us, here and everywhere, and always pray to the Son of God for us.

I will praise You, O God, in the sight of Your Angels.  
I will adore You in Your holy Temple and I will confess Your Name.

Let us pray:  
O God, Who hast in an admirable order disposed the ministry of angels and of
 men, grant in Your goodness that our life on earth may be protected by those who in heaven always assist before Your throne ready to do Your will. Through Our Lord, Jesus Christ.  
Amen.

Day 8 Prayer

Most noble Archangels, you who, under the command of St. Michael, guard and protect the Holy Church, deliver her from internal and external enemies. Watch over all bishops and clergy, as well as over all the children of the Immaculate of Spouse of Christ, and in virtue of the Divine Blood, obtain for us
the grace to live and die in the Faith, Hope and Charity of the Holy Church, so that we may be eternally united with its august Head, Jesus Christ, Our Lord.

Novena to St. Michael the Archangel and All the Angels — Day 7

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Novena Prayer

O all you Holy Angels, who contemplate unceasingly the uncreated
 beauty of the Divinity, in company with our ever glorious Queen,
 I present and offer to you this novena not only as a means of
obtaining favors

(here specify your request)

but also as a reparation for my past ingratitude, and that of all men.
 Deign to accept it, O amiable Spirits, in union with the love and
 devotion of such saints as were especially devout to you, and obtain
 for me the grace to spend this life fervently that it may be the
 commencement of that blessed life which I hope to live forever
 with you in heaven.

O God, who with wonderful order has regulated the functions of angels and men, grant that those who always assist before Thy throne in heaven may defend my life here on earth, through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.  Amen.

Prayer of the day

St. Michael, the Archangel, Defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Power of God, cast
 into hell, Satan and all the evil spirits, who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
 As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O most glorious Prince, Michael, the Archangel,
 be mindful of us, here and everywhere, and always pray to the Son of God for us.

I will praise You, O God, in the sight of Your Angels.  
I will adore You in Your holy Temple and I will confess Your Name.

Let us pray:  
O God, Who hast in an admirable order disposed the ministry of angels and of
men, grant in Your goodness that our life on earth may be protected by those who in heaven always assist before Your throne ready to do Your will. Through Our Lord, Jesus Christ.  
Amen.

Day 7 Prayer

St. Michael the Archangel, pray that we may have the grace to joyfully dedicate everything that we do to the greater glory of God.

Novena to St. Michael the Archangel and All the Angels — Day 6

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Novena Prayer

O all you Holy Angels, who contemplate unceasingly the uncreated
beauty of the Divinity, in company with our ever glorious Queen,
I present and offer to you this novena not only as a means of
obtaining favors

(here specify your request)

but also as a reparation for my past ingratitude, and that of all men.
Deign to accept it, O amiable Spirits, in union with the love and
devotion of such saints as were especially devout to you, and obtain
for me the grace to spend this life fervently that it may be the
commencement of that blessed life which I hope to live forever
 with you in heaven.

O God, who with wonderful order has regulated the functions of angels and men, grant that those who always assist before Thy throne in heaven may defend my life here on earth, through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.  Amen.

Prayer of the day

St. Michael, the Archangel, Defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Power of God, cast
into hell, Satan and all the evil spirits, who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O most glorious Prince, Michael, the Archangel,
 be mindful of us, here and everywhere, and always pray to the Son of God for us.

I will praise You, O God, in the sight of Your Angels.  
I will adore You in Your holy Temple and I will confess Your Name.

Let us pray:  
O God, Who hast in an admirable order disposed the ministry of angels and of
men, grant in Your goodness that our life on earth may be protected by those who in heaven always assist before Your throne ready to do Your will. Through Our Lord, Jesus Christ.  
Amen.

Day 6 Prayer

St. Michael the Archangel, pray that we may have the faith to truly entrust our lives to the loving care of our Heavenly Father.

Novena to St. Michael the Archangel and All the Angels — Day 5

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Novena Prayer

O all you Holy Angels, who contemplate unceasingly the uncreated
beauty of the Divinity, in company with our ever glorious Queen,
I present and offer to you this novena not only as a means of
obtaining favors

(here specify your request)

but also as a reparation for my past ingratitude, and that of all men.
Deign to accept it, O amiable Spirits, in union with the love and
devotion of such saints as were especially devout to you, and obtain
for me the grace to spend this life fervently that it may be the
commencement of that blessed life which I hope to live forever
 with you in heaven.

O God, who with wonderful order has regulated the functions of angels and men, grant that those who always assist before Thy throne in heaven may defend my life here on earth, through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.  Amen.

Prayer of the day

St. Michael, the Archangel, Defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Power of God, cast
into hell, Satan and all the evil spirits, who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O most glorious Prince, Michael, the Archangel,
 be mindful of us, here and everywhere, and always pray to the Son of God for us.

I will praise You, O God, in the sight of Your Angels.  
I will adore You in Your holy Temple and I will confess Your Name.

Let us pray:  
O God, Who hast in an admirable order disposed the ministry of angels and of
men, grant in Your goodness that our life on earth may be protected by those who in heaven always assist before Your throne ready to do Your will. Through Our Lord, Jesus Christ.  
Amen.

Day 5 Prayer

Invincible Powers, whose mission it is to remove the obstacles to the Divine will, And to overcome its enemies, defend us against attacks of the world, the flesh and the devil, and in virtue of the Divine Blood, render us victorious in our combats against this triple power.