Lent begins this year on Wednesday, March 1, 2017. It is usually a time where Catholics seek to grow deeper to the Lord by prayer, fasting and almsgiving. In other words, Catholics attempt to intensify their prayer life, sometimes be going to daily Mass and other times by taking up a prayerful devotion or practice. Catholics also choose to remove from their lives those things that keep them from growing in faith in God. Catholics usually refer to this as “giving something up for Lent.” It can also be doing something extra. Some choose to visit a soup kitchen or volunteer at some other agency. Below are some suggestions to help you to grow this Lent.
Lenten Calendar with links and activities. During Lent, take inspiration from the words of St. Paul (2 Cor 8:9), and contemplate his invitation to live a life of evangelical poverty. Embrace the Lord’s call to being the blessed poor by “giving up” material things, including food, superfluous to your basic needs; “taking up” charitable habits directed to helping and caring for others; and “lifting up” those in need through giving alms, through praying for them, and by participating in devotional practices.
Fortify your Lenten journey with the words of the church fathers and Pope Francis featured on this calendar, and contemplate the suggestions for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Print the calendar in English or Spanish and post it in a prominent place to remind you of your commitment to give up, take up, and lift up, during this Lent.
Lectio Divina from USCCB. Lectio Divina is a form of meditation rooted in liturgical celebration that dates back to early monastic communities. It involves focused reading of Scripture (lectio), meditation on the Word of God (meditatio), contemplation of the Word and its meaning in one’s life (contemplatio) and ends with prayer (oratio). For this Lent, we will have a Lectio Divina resource for the readings for Ash Wednesday and the Sundays of Lent that can be used by individuals or in group settings.
Seven Penitential Psalms and the Songs of the Suffering Servant Reflections. During times when we wish to express repentance and especially during Lent, it is customary to pray the seven penitential psalms. The penitential designation of these psalms dates from the seventh century. Prayerfully reciting these psalms will help us to recognize our sinfulness, express our sorrow and ask for God’s forgiveness.
Within the Book of the Prophet Isaiah we encounter four poetic sections known as the Songs of the Suffering Servant. The specific identity of this Servant of the Lord remains the topic of scholarly debate. Perhaps it refers to the prophet Isaiah himself, perhaps the entire nation of Israel, or possibly the promised Messiah. Christian faith sees these prophetic utterances fulfilled in the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Lord.
Stations of the Cross. The Stations of the Cross are traditionally prayed on the Fridays of Lent. Follow the link above for more information on this popular devotional practice, including prayers for the Stations of the Cross prayed by Blessed John Paul II on Good Friday 1991 and an audio version for download.
A Week of Prayers for Lenten Devotions from the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development. Every family and household is encouraged to take a renewed look at the penitential practice of prayer this Lenten Season. Below is a suggested format for each day of the week for the six weeks of Lent. If families gathered together once each day for the intentions and prayer for that day, we will have begun to deepen our understanding of our baptismal promises, and will be more prepared to “renew” these promises at an Easter liturgy. A parishioner living alone can also enter into this prayer. Those bringing Holy Communion to the homebound might consider calling one of the homebound each day and praying over the phone with them. There are many other creative ways to build a “habit of prayer” throughout Lent that can continue “forever and ever Amen!”