lenten reflections

ash wednesday

"Dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return." Gn. 3:19
Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God. (Joel 2:13)

Reflection

The liturgical use of ashes originated in the Old Testament times. Ashes symbolized mourning, mortality and penance. In the Book of Esther, Mordecai put on sackcloth and ashes when he heard of the decree of King Ahasuerus to kill all of the Jewish people in the Persian Empire (Esther 4:1). Job repented in sackcloth and ashes (Job 42:6). Prophesying the Babylonian captivity of Jerusalem, Daniel wrote, "I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes" (Daniel 9:3).

 

Jesus made reference to ashes, "If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, they would have reformed in sackcloth and ashes long ago" (Matthew 11:21).

 

In the Middle Ages, the priest would bless the dying person with holy water, saying, "Remember that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return." The Church adapted the use of ashes to mark the beginning of the penitential season of Lent, when we remember our mortality and mourn for our sins. In our present liturgy for Ash Wednesday, we use ashes made from the burned palm branches distributed on the Palm Sunday of the previous year. The priest blesses the ashes and imposes them on the foreheads of the faithful, making the sign of the cross and saying, "Remember, man you are dust and to dust you shall return," or "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel." As we begin this holy season of Lent in preparation for Easter, we must remember the significance of the ashes we have received: We mourn and do penance for our sins. We again convert our hearts to the Lord, who suffered, died, and rose for our salvation. We renew the promises made at our baptism, when we died to an old life and rose to a new life with Christ. Finally, mindful that the kingdom of this world passes away, we strive to live the kingdom of God now and look forward to its fulfillment in heaven.

 

Lenten Question

 

Q: What is Lent?
A: Lent is the forty day period before Easter, excluding Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter Sunday). [This traditional ennumeration does not precisely coincide with the calendar according to the liturgical reform. In order to give special prominence to the Sacred Triduum (Mass of the Lord's Supper, Good Friday, Easter Vigil) the current calendar counts Lent as only from Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday, up to the Mass of the Lord's Supper. Even so, Lenten practices are properly maintained up to the Easter Vigil, excluding Sundays, as before.]

Lenten Action

 

Invite a non-practicing friend to Mass with you.

 

Prayer

 

Almighty and everlasting God, you despise 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 brokenness, 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, one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

first sunday of lent

"I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth." (Genesis 9:13)

 

Reflection

 

"The whole life of Christ was a cross and a martyrdom, and dost thou seek rest and joy? If thou carry the cross unwillingly, thou makest it a burden to thee. If thou fling away one cross, without doubt thou shalt find another, perhaps a heavier" .... (Thomas de Kempis -- Imitation of Christ).

 

Lenten Question

 

Q: Why are Sundays excluded from the reckoning of the forty days?
A: Because Sunday is the day on which Christ arose, making it an inappropriate day to fast and mourn our sins. On Sunday we must celebrate Christ's resurrection for our salvation. It is Friday on which we commemorate his death for our sins. The Sundays of the year are days of celebration and the Fridays of the year are days of penance.

 

Lenten Action

 

Phone a long lost friend and relive old memories. Visit a sick person. Feed the birds.

 

Prayer

 

O Jesus, I withdraw in spirit with You into the desert; teach me how to fight the triple concupiscence of the flesh, pride, and avarice.

 

second sunday of lent

He was transfigured before their eyes and his clothes became dazzlingly white. (Mark 9:2-3)

 

Reflection

 

"This is the remedy to fix my gaze on You, Incarnate Word, hanging on the Cross. As soon as You see a humble soul looking at You in this way, you are quickly moved to look at it, and the effect of Your divine glance is like that of a ray of sunshine on the earth; it warms it and prepares it to bring forth fruit. This is the way You act, O Divine Word, who by the light of Your glance, drain my soul of all its pride, and consume it in Your fire. No one acquires humility if he does not fix his gaze on You, O Word, on the Cross." ... St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi

 

Lenten Fact

 

During Bach's day, often the organ and choirs were silent during Lent.

 

Lenten Action

 

Talk about today's scriptures with a friend after Mass.

 

Prayer

 

Father of light,
in you is found no shadow of change but only the fullness of life and limitless truth. Open our heart to the voice of Your Word. and free us from the original darkness that shadows our vision. Restore our sight that we may look upon your Son who calls us to repentance and a change of heart, for He lives and reigns with you for ever and ever.

 

third sunday of lent

"Zeal for your house consumes me." (John 2:17)

 

Reflection

 

" O Divine Truth, You give so much strength to the soul which clothes itself with You, that it never falters under the weight of adversity beneath the burden of troubles and temptations, but in every struggle it gains a great victory. I am wretched because I have not followed You, O Eternal Truth; hence I am so weak that in every least tribulation I fall" ...St Catherine of Siena

 

Lenten Question

 

Q: Is there a biblical basis for abstaining from meat as a sign of repentance?
A: Yes. The book of Daniel states: "In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia . . . 'I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.'" (Daniel 10:1-3)

 

Lenten Action

 

Say "I will pray for you" to someone who has shared a difficulty.

 

Prayer

 

Renew my eagerness to work with you in building a better world, so that my friends may hear your gospel of peace and justice.

 

fourth sunday of lent

"So must the Son of Man be lifted up, that all who believe may have eternal life in Him." (John 3:14,15)

 

Reflection

 

Faith always takes us on a journey beyond the obvious and tangible. This was often lacking in those who experienced Jesus and His teachings. When He spoke of offering His Body and Blood, they exclaimed: "How can this man give us flesh to eat?" They totally missed the spiritual dimension of His words and message. He was pointing them to a higher realm of understanding, while they chose to remain on an earthly level leading only to darkness and death.
Faith does not come easy. While we see and know people for whom faith seems like second nature, for many of us it is a gift that reveals itself only with the utmost diligence and care. It usually begins to appear in times of transition, distress and/or sickness, for it is in moments like these that the Lord is able to get our attention long enough, so that we can hear His voice above the noise and confusion of our daily lives. Whenever trouble breaks into the serenity of our daily existence, we can be sure the Divine potter is at work trying to mold us into something beautiful. ....Fr. Dominic P. Irace

 

Lenten Action

 

Pray for those who are being persecuted for their faith or race. Say thank you to one of your former teachers.

 

Prayer

 

O Jesus, true Bread of Eternal Life, appease my hunger.

 

fifth sunday of lent

Then a voice came from the sky: "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again." (John 12:28)

 

Reflection

 

Prayer to be Freed of the Seven Deadly Sins

O meek Savior and Prince of Peace, implant in me the virtues of gentleness and patience. Let me curb the fury of anger and restrain all resentment and impatience so as to overcome evil with good, attain your peace, and rejoice in your love.

O Model of humility, divest me of all pride and arrogance. Let me acknowledge my weakness and sinfulness, so that I may bear mockery and contempt for your sake and esteem myself as lowly in your sight.

O Teacher of abstinence, help me to serve you rather than our appetites. Keep me from gluttony - the inordinate love of food and drink and let me hunger and thirst for your justice.

O Lover of purity, remove all lust from my heart, so that I may serve you with a pure mind and a chaste body.

O Father of the poor, help me to avoid all covetousness for earthly goods and give me a love for heavenly things. Inspire me to give to the needy, just as you gave your life that I might inherit eternal treasures.

O Exemplar of love, keep me from all envy and ill-will. Let the grace of your love dwell in me that I may rejoice in the happiness of others and bewail their adversities.

O zealous Lover of souls, keep me from all sloth of mind or body. Inspire me with zeal for your glory, so that I may do all things for you and in you.

 

Lenten Fact

 

Passiontide is the last two weeks of Lent, when the readings and prayers of the liturgy focus on the Passion of Our Lord. The word 'passion', in the Christian sense, does not mean an intense emotion; it refers to the historical events of Jesus' suffering and death. Although for several centuries the Fifth Sunday of Lent was known as Passion Sunday, after the Second Vatican Council this name was restored to the Sunday at beginning of Holy Week , formerly called Palm Sunday. As a penitential season of the Church, Passiontide is evidently even more ancient than Lent.

 

Lenten Action

 

Reach out to someone who is alienated from your group.

 

Prayer

 

Father, help us keep in mind that Christ our Savior lives with you in glory and promised to remain with us until the end of time. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

 

The Cathedral of Saint Peter is the Mother Church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton. The Cathedral has been serving the faithful of the diocese and beyond since 1853.

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