Lenten Prayers, Reflections, Thoughts, and Meditations
Welcome to our Lent Prayer page!
Here you will find a number resources to aid you in your Lenten journey, particularly the virtual retreat. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday will have a new post for you to reflect on or a challenge for you to take action on. We hope you visit regularly. There are also videos to help anyone who might want to learn more about where our Lent traditions come from, what they mean, and why they are important to our spiritual growth. The Online Resources tab has a number of new links to great websites that also provide some materials for your 40 day journey. Enjoy and Happy Lent!
April 16 - Easter Sunday
Then the angel said to the women in reply,
“Do not be afraid!
I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified.
He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.
Come and see the place where he lay.
Then go quickly and tell his disciples,
‘He has been raised from the dead,
and he is going before you to Galilee;
there you will see him.’
Behold, I have told you.”
Then they went away quickly from the tomb,
fearful yet overjoyed,
and ran to announce this to his disciples.
The Lord has risen, he is risen indeed! Let us rejoice and be glad!
April 15 - Holy Saturday
They took the body of Jesus
and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices,
according to the Jewish burial custom.
Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden,
and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried.
So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day;
for the tomb was close by.
Today is a day of sacred waiting, sacred vigil.
We go about our preparations to celebrate Easter with family or friends.
The realities of life are in front of us—cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping.
In the midst of these tasks, there is a sense of quiet—the quiet of vigiling and waiting.
Tonight, we gather, the tasks of the day completed.
We sit together, in the dark, around a magnificent fire, recalling the roots of our faith, remembering Jesus. We sing of creation out of nothingness, the parting of seas, the knitting of bones, hearts recreated from stone…we sing of light from darkness and new life from death.
As you ponder the significance of this day of vigil, seek a few moments of simple quiet.
Perhaps this song will aid your rest:
April 14 - Good Friday
Yet it was our pain that he bore,
our sufferings he endured.
We thought of him as stricken,
struck down by God and afflicted,
But he was pierced for our sins,
crushed for our iniquity.
He bore the punishment that makes us whole,
by his wounds we were healed.
We stand at the foot of the cross, broken, astonished, in a daze.
The pain, the abasement, the violence….it is too much.
As I reflect on this man’s suffering, I wonder, why God?
Why is it that people suffer everyday?
How have I crucified those with whom I share this earth?
When have I stood with another at the foot of their cross?
How is this Christ calling to my heart today?
I ponder these questions and more as I listen:
Let us meet around the fire tomorrow, as we keep our Vigil of hope…
April 13 - Holy Thursday
So when he had washed their feet
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another’s feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
It is sunset.
Our observance of Lent has officially ended.
We gather here, in this Upper Room, to pray, wash feet, share a meal.
We cannot possibly understand the implications of these actions, yet we will repeat them week upon week, for most of our lives.
In the midst of this celebration, Jesus sits in the great agony of knowing he will be betrayed and treated as a common criminal: abused, tortured, murdered, left to die.
Yet, he continues to teach us to care for each other, to remember him in this simple meal, to love each other.
Do we have the courage to accept and embrace this great mandate?
I invite you to listen to this song of great love, Ubi Caritas:
Ponder your place in the upper room.
Then, enter the garden with Christ.
Share your thoughts with him.
Let’s find each other at the cross tomorrow…
April 9 - Passion Sunday
The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road,
while others cut branches from the trees
and strewed them on the road.
The crowds preceding him and those following
kept crying out and saying:
“Hosanna to the Son of David;
blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord;
hosanna in the highest.”
And when he entered Jerusalem
the whole city was shaken and asked, “Who is this?”
And the crowds replied,
“This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.”
We enter Holy Week with great rejoicing and fervor, waving palms, shouting “Hosanna!” It is certainly easy to join the crowd, to hitch our wagons to the latest star. It is equally as simple to join the mob, once anger, disappointment, or great manipulators transform the crowd.
Which side will you be standing on, by the end of this day? How will you measure your time, your prayer, and your attitudes as this week unfolds?
Perhaps you have never really thought much about this week, just falling into the traditional celebrations and prayers.
Maybe, this is the year to enter it with a new mind and a new heart.
Reread this scripture, allowing yourself to become a part of what is happening. Are you a bystander? Perhaps you gave the donkey to the disciples for Jesus to ride. Are you shouting and waving a palm branch? Follow this path, the path of Jesus. Will you be sitting with him at table on Thursday? Standing at the cross on Friday? Running and hiding in fear, instead?
Ponder this. Pray with it. Let God guide your heart. We will meet in the upper room on Thursday…
Christ Before Us by Janet Sullivan Whitaker
During this week, call to mind where you see God dwelling among us. Where is this difficult to do so? Perhaps, those places are where you can stretch yourself to address the “other,” to share your resources, and to lift these needs in prayer.
Thus says the Lord GOD:
I will take the children of Israel from among the nations
to which they have come,
and gather them from all sides to bring them back to their land.
I will make them one nation upon the land,
in the mountains of Israel,
and there shall be one prince for them all.
No longer shall they defile themselves with their idols,
their abominations, and all their transgressions.
I will deliver them from all their sins of apostasy,
and cleanse them so that they may be my people
and I may be their God.
My servant David shall be prince over them,
and there shall be one shepherd for them all;
they shall live by my statutes and carefully observe my decrees.
They shall live on the land that I gave to my servant Jacob,
the land where their fathers lived;
they shall live on it forever,
they, and their children, and their children’s children,
with my servant David their prince forever.
I will make with them a covenant of peace;
it shall be an everlasting covenant with them,
and I will multiply them, and put my sanctuary among them forever.
My dwelling shall be with them;
I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
We encounter another vision of unity and peace. This vision also comes with a promise, a reminder of the covenant Yahweh set with Abraham long before Jesus walked. Yet, it is in Jesus that the covenant is fulfilled. Imagine, living this fulfillment! It is for us to know each day if we can but recognize God dwelling with us.
Create a Clean Heart in Me by Lorraine Hess
Time for a “do over!” Simply begin asking God to help you pray today, to bless you with a clean heart.
Thus says the LORD:
Lo, I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
The things of the past shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
Instead, there shall always be rejoicing and happiness
in what I create;
For I create Jerusalem to be a joy
and its people to be a delight;
I will rejoice in Jerusalem
and exult in my people.
No longer shall the sound of weeping be heard there,
or the sound of crying;
No longer shall there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not round out his full lifetime;
He dies a mere youth who reaches but a hundred years,
and he who fails of a hundred shall be thought accursed.
They shall live in the houses they build,
and eat the fruit of the vineyards they plant.
This scripture from Isaiah paints a vision of life in which we are all in right relationship with God, creation, and each other! In this vision, we are able to recognize God in all people. We are new and renewed.
Why do we hear this Word in the middle of Lent?
We have been striving to grow in our fasting, prayer and, almsgiving. In taking on the hard work of letting go of what is comfortable (even though burdensome) and stretching and striving to sit with God and recognize God in the other, we can become tired or discouraged. Perhaps we have not made the time to pray. Money is tight; the kids have been extra demanding. Work relationships and the political climate of the country have challenged us on the best of days. This vision is a glimpse of life rooted in the Body of Christ. It is a glimpse of peace. It is a gentle urge to keep trying, to retry, or maybe to start.
Gracious God by Jesse Manibusan
Take a look through your closet and drawers. Are there items you no longer wear but are in good shape? Share these via one of the many outlets for charitable donations, remembering that the poor do not want to look ragged and poor. How might this vision change your method of sharing?
One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
“Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
It all boils down to this understanding of God’s love, that which we call the Great Commandment!
What does it mean for you to love God with everything in your being and existence? Here is a question to wonder on for all of our lives! Yet, I suggest that the second portion of this formula is the more difficult—that is, to love our neighbor as ourselves. To even begin this task means we must strive to love ourselves.
What is self-love? It is not as simple as indulging in whatever fancies our whims. Might I suggest some soul searching in prayer this week? Ask God for the guidance to know yourself, to make space for the Holy, to see yourself as God sees you. Be kind to yourself and practice this same kindness to all you encounter.
Song of the Transfiguration by David Haas
Seek out someone you know who views the world differently from you and engage them in a discussion about an issue in which you disagree. Practice listening instead of reacting as he/she shares their views. Is it possible to enter into dialogue? Might you find some common ground? Take this to prayer and strive to see Christ in this person as you listen.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”
If we have pondered and prayed to discern our deepest needs, and those of the other, then perhaps, we have found ourselves in a place of wondering who that “other” is. After all, we can spend time going deep, listening in prayer, and reading scripture and begin to discover our own hunger for God. However, the other? Who is the other? In addition, how do I know their needs? The other as my spouse, child, parent, friend, relative, co-worker, neighbor…ok. I can see that. However, pushing that boundary to someone, I do not know, or someone who is drastically different from me in worldview, color, creed, ethnicity, sexuality…
Now, we enter the realm of judgment. I can make some guesses at whom those others are. I may even hold to the acceptable stereotypes and make my daily decisions based on those reactions. Stretching to see the other as one who shares my passion for life, love, truth and happiness…that is not easily done for many of us.
How might you take these words to heart this week:
“…the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you…”
Tree of Life by Aaron Thompson
Did your Monday reflection offer you some pearls of wisdom in discerning your true needs? Did it shed some light on the needs of another? Continue to pray about this throughout Lent [and beyond!]. This week, make it a priority to come to one of the Parish Mission sessions at OLOL or St. Greg’s.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Which one of you would hand his son a stone
when he asked for a loaf of bread,
or a snake when he asked for a fish?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your heavenly Father give good things
to those who ask him.
“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.
This is the law and the prophets.”
We enter into Lent with hearts in need of hope! In this Scripture passage, we are given words of hope, that all we need do is ask God for what we truly need. God, as love, will fulfill our needs! We are also called to tend to those same needs in the other. “Do unto others whatever you would have them do to you.” This is the law of love we are to live.
Lent is a season in our lives that beckons forth healing, acts of love, repentance, and hope. In the end, we will reap hope, new life, and joy!
Let us start down this road to Easter by examining our hearts—what do we truly need? How might strive to see those same needs in others? What actions might we take to care for the other?
In other words, how will you practice prayer, fasting and almsgiving in these next weeks?
Cry out full-throated and unsparingly
lift up your voice like a trumpet blast;
Proclaim to my people their transgression,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
They seek me day after day,
and desire to know my ways,
Like a nation that has done what is just
and not abandoned the judgment of their God;
They ask of me just judgments,
they desire to draw near to God.
“Why do we fast, but you do not see it?
afflict ourselves, but you take no note?”
See, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits,
and drive all your laborers.
See, you fast only to quarrel and fight
and to strike with a wicked fist!
Do not fast as you do today
to make your voice heard on high!
Is this the manner of fasting I would choose,
a day to afflict oneself?
To bow one’s head like a reed,
and lie upon sackcloth and ashes?
Is this what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking off every yoke?
Is it not sharing your bread with the hungry,
bringing the afflicted and the homeless into your house;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own flesh?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: “Here I am!”
If you remove the yoke from among you,
the accusing finger, and malicious speech;
If you lavish your food on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
Then your light shall rise in the darkness,[Is. 58:1-10]
and your gloom shall become like midday;
On this Ash Wednesday, we are reminded of the need to grow more Christ-like. To do so, we are encouraged to “practice” three traditions associated with Lent: praying, fasting, and almsgiving. Why is it that these three disciplines are highlighted in the weeks and days ahead? Fasting cleanses us from activities or attitudes that prevent us from living into the invitation of Jesus. Praying strengthens and centers us in the heart of Christ, that we might see him more clearly in the face of others. Almsgiving stretches our capacity for generosity in many avenues. As we rid ourselves of less than loving actions, grow to listen more keenly to God’s voice and share ourselves more fully with God’s creation, we are venturing on sure feet down the path of the new life celebrated at Easter.
Re-read the scripture above. How do the words of Isaiah challenge you to practice praying, fasting and almsgiving this Lent? Ponder this challenge and make a plan for how you wish to engage these disciplines.
Video Reflection: “Return to God”
Lenten Prayer and Reflection Opportunities at OLOL
Living Stations of the Cross
Join us on Good Friday at noon as the teens portray the Scriptural Way of the Cross through narration, drama, music, and dance. You know this story well. Teens will transport you to this great love story as we experience the mercy and faithfulness of Jesus. Bring the whole family as you will have great conversations as you prepare to celebrate Easter.
You Don’t Know Jack… about Lent
What is Lent? What are the three practices the Church suggests we do during Lent based on the teachings of Jesus? Why do Catholics eat fish on Fridays and why is it called “Good” Friday, anyway?
So What are the Ashes All About?
When you have viewed the video, try to answer these questions:
- What is Ash Wednesday?
- Why do people have ashes placed on their forehead?
- Where do ashes used on Ash Wednesday come from?
Go Into the Desert this Lent
During this season of Lent, you are invited into the desert: a quiet place, with less of us and more of God.
What is Lent?
Archbishop of Los Angeles, José Gomez reflects on the importance of Solidarity during Lent.
Father James Martin, SJ, Editor at Large of America Magazine, shows how important prayer is during Lent by connecting us to God.
Former CRS Board Chair and Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, frames the season of Lent by reflecting on our journey back to God.
Kerry Weber, Managing Editor at America Magazine and former CRS Egan Journalism Fellow, describes her experience with Mercy during the season of Lent.
Catholic author, Christopher West discusses the meaning and importance of fasting during Lent.
Dr. Carolyn Woo, President & CEO of Catholic Relief Services, describes Lent as a season of practice.
Holy Week in Two Minutes
Want to know why Catholics wave palms on Palm Sunday; wash each other’s feet on Holy Thursday; or kiss the cross on Good Friday? Look no further than BustedHalo.com’s® two-minute video that describes the final week of Lent we spend preparing for Easter.