In the spirit of the pastoral letter written by our bishop at the beginning of the season of Lent, where he urges us to “take one step with the Holy Spirit this Lent and so deepen our love for the inspired Sacred Scriptures,” we would like to lead you in a prayerful encounter with the scriptures for each day of the season of Lent. This is not a bible study but a heart-felt encounter with the One who has longed to reveal himself to you in prayer.
The manner in which we will read the scriptures is called “Lectio Divina,” an ancient method of reading, meditating, praying and contemplating the living word of God. Each day we will take the scripture of the day (the scripture of the daily Mass) and guide you through this beautiful process:
Today, Thursday after Ash Wednesday
Text: Luke 9:22-25
Step One: Lectio:
Slowly read the text below. As in all prayer, it is God who takes the first step, and so God now desires to speak to you through this holy text. Savor the words, but more importantly, savor the love with which the Lord speaks these words to you today.
Jesus said to his disciples:
"The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected
by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised."
Then he said to all,
"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?"
Step Two: Meditatio:
What does the biblical text say to us? I become aware of the thoughts and feelings I have as I encounter this holy text. The following reflection may help you today to focus on the meaning of the text for your life today.
“Give up something for Lent? When I was a kid, I used to give up candy. For a couple of Lents, I can remember even giving up TV! But not anymore. That’s the old fashioned religion in which I was raised. God doesn’t want me to give up things. He wants me to do things. Besides, what more does God expect me to give up? Haven’t I given Him enough? And I am getting old now, and it is harder for me to give up things. ‘Deny myself and take up my cross?’ That doesn’t apply to me!”
I am embarrassed to say that this is the way I think. Does any of this sound familiar to you? The problem isn’t so much that I am no longer “giving up things” for Lent. The problem is that I live my discipleship in such a way where I pick and choose what applies to me, making excuses why I can’t do this, rationalizing as to why I do that.
Maybe Jesus is calling me to a more “childlike” way of approaching Lent! Maybe He is inviting me to give up something in the same manner as I did when I was a child, if for no other reason than to say to myself, “I will no longer stand in my pride and say what part of the gospel applies to me and what does not. I will not write the rules.” And what good will it do if I do, in fact, give up something that I enjoy for Lent? How will God bless me? I leave that up to Him.
Step three: Oratio:
What do we say to the Lord in response to His word? What are the petitions or praise I offer him? What are the graces I am seeking as I encounter this holy text?
Prayerfully reflect on some "comfort" that you will choose to give up during these next forty days. What are some of the acts of self-denial that you will try to make during this season of Lent?
Step Four: Contemplatio
We take the time to be silent, to allow our heart to rest in the One who loves us so. We simply allow our hearts to be still for all hat we need and all that we have asked for has now been placed in the hands of the One who loves us so.