Lenten Reflections from Ash Wednesday to Saturday

Our Lady of Fatima Parish

Durban North

Lent: A Journey of Renewal

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Reflections from Ash Wednesday to the Saturday after Ash Wednesday


ASH WEDNESDAY

Scripture : Joel 2: 12 – 18

Reflection
What an extraordinary invitation! Each year the Church gives us this joyful season of Lent to renew our faith. Who among us can say that we aren’t in need of spiritual renewal?

So we begin Lent today with ashes on our foreheads – the symbol of death, a sign of our willingness to die to selfishness, self-centeredness and self-indulgence in order to renew the spirit of generosity, love, goodness and joy – which our faith gives.

We also need to look ahead today to where this Lenten Journey takes us; – to Easter, the celebration of Life: the renewed life of our Faith and a foretaste and promise of what awaits us at the end of life’s journey – Eternal Life.

When we hear today the Lord’s invitation to us to “Come back to me with all your heart” we should feel a certain excitement and enthusiasm within ourselves – unless of course we have grown accustomed to and have become comfortable in our sins, self-centeredness and old lifestyle.

Do you want to make a new beginning? Do you want to renew your faith? Do you want to come back to God?

Practical Suggestion
The beginning of Lent is a time for some honest and deep introspection. We need to look at ourselves – like staring at ourselves in a mirror and identifying our flaws and blemishes. Its not comfortable but God is giving us the opportunity to remove all of these spiritual flaws and blemises and to be purified and born again through our Lenten observance. Think about what you need to change in your life and what you need to get rid of in order to experience this renewal.

Prayer
Father, create a pure heart within me through my experience of Lent. Help me to begin today with a joyful enthusiasm and to enter into this special time with a happy heart knowing that you alone can change, renew and transform me. Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be …

THURSDAY 06 MARCH
Getting started during Lent

Scripture: Deuteronomy 30: 15 – 20

Reflection
Even as Lent 2014 begins, we may be uncertain about what we need to focus on in our spiritual lives, what needs our attention and energy. Perhaps, during this Year of the Family, we should make an effort to improve our family life, and make it more like that of the Holy Family.

Life is about choices and family life begins with the choice of a partner for life in Marriage and thereafter with the choice to bring childfren into the world according to God’s plan. Today’s scripture encourages us to ‘choose life, that you and your children may live, loving the Lord your God…” Having given your children the gift of life, you have also chosen, by having them baptised, to give them the gift of faith. Faith offers us Eternal Life. This is your gift to your children.

Practical Suggestions
3 Action Steps for Parents
Let go of a bad habit. What would you list as your worst habit as a parent? Pick one habit and try, a day at a time, to let go of it. Jesus came to free the prisoners. If you feel like a prisoner to a bad-parenting habit, take advantage of Lent to loosen its grip on your life.

Strengthen a good habit. Take a minute to write down three parenting skills that you’re really good at. Pick one and think of how you can put this strength to good use on a daily basis. Exercising your strengths can benefit those you live with.

Ask God to lead you. Every morning, first thing, ask God to help you be a better mom or dad. You have a mission from God to be the kind of parent your child needs.

Prayer
Loving God and Father, we thank you for the gift of our family. We thank you for all the blessings we receive as a family. Help us this Lent to recognize our failures to live as a happy, united family. Help us to change our family this Lent; may we become more like the Holy Family of Nazareth. Amen

FRIDAY 07 MARCH

Scripture: Matthew 9: 14-15

Reflection
To walk as a disciple with Jesus is to experience a whole new joy of relationship. But there comes a time when the Lord’s disciples must bear the cross of affliction and purification.

Jesus warns his disciples about the problem of the “closed mind” that refuses to learn new things. Jesus used an image familiar to his audience – new and old wineskins. In Jesus’ times, wine was stored in wineskins, not bottles. New wine poured into skins was still fermenting. The gases exerted pressure. New wine skins were elastic enough to take pressure, but old wine skins easily burst because they were hard.

What did Jesus mean by this comparison? Are we to reject the old in place of the new? Just as there is a right place and a right time for fasting and for feasting, so there is a right place for the old and the new. Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out the new and what is old (Matthew 16: 52).

How impoverished we would be if we only had the Old Testament or the New Testament, rather than both. The Lord gives us wisdom so we can make the best use of both the old and the new.

He doesn’t want us to hold rigidly to the past and to be resistant to the new work of his Holy Spirit in our lives. He wants our minds and hearts to be like new wine skins – open and ready to receive the new wine of the Holy Spirit.

Are we eager to grow in the knowledge and understanding of God’s word and plan for our lives?

Practical Suggestion
The Stations of the Cross commence tonight. Be a true disciple of Jesus, attend and walk with him who bears the cross of our afflictions.

Prayer
Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit, that I may grow in the knowledge of your great love and truth. Help me seek you earnestly in prayer and fasting that I may turn away from sin and wilfullness and conform my life more fully to your will. May I always find joy in knowing, loving, and serving you.

SATURDAY 08 MARCH
God does not only call those who are fit, He makes fit all whom he calls.

Scripture: Luke 5: 27-32

Reflection
Why would Jesus choose a tax collector, who was probably corrupt, to be his disciple? Couldn’t he find a better candidate?

The answer is – that Jesus did not just see Matthew for who he was, but also for who he could be. The crowd saw a hated tax collector. Jesus saw a faithful disciple and the writer of the first gospel in our Bible.

Gideon saw himself as a nobody. “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” [Judges 6: 15]. But God saw him as a ‘mighty warrior’ who would defeat the Midianites.

Jesse saw David as just a shepherd boy, but God saw him as a king. Today, God not only sees you for what you are, he also sees you as the person he created you to be. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you have done, or where you come from – Jesus is calling you to follow him. What will your response be?

Practical Suggestion
Matthew brought his friends to Jesus by throwing a party. What can you do this Lent, to bring your friends to Jesus? You can start by giving them this booklet and asking the Holy Spirit to touch and change their lives.

Prayer
Holy Spirit, give me the courage to bring someone to Jesus this Lent, not so much by the eloquence of my speech but by my loving concern for them. I ask this, in the wonderful and precious name of Jesus. Amen.