Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Christians have always observed with great devotion
the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection.
It became a custom of the Church to prepare for Easter
by a season of penitence, fasting and prayer.
This season of forty days
provided a time when converts to the faith
were prepared for initiation into the Christ and the Church.
It is also the time
when persons who had committed serious sins
and had been separated from the community of faith
were reconciled by penance and forgiveness, and
restored to fellowship in the Church.
When all believers began to receive ashes,
the whole Church was thus reminded
of the mercy and forgiveness found in the gospels
and of the need we all have to renew our baptismal faith.
I invite you, in the name of the Lord Jesus,
to observe a holy Lent by
reading and reflecting upon the Word of God.
— Slightly adapted from the Church of England’s Book of Common Praise
A Lenten Prayer by Henri Nouwen
How often have I lived through these weeks
without paying much attention to penance, fasting, and prayer?
How often have I missed the spiritual fruits of the season
without even being aware of it?
But how can I ever really celebrate Easter without observing Lent?
How can I rejoice fully in your Resurrection
when I have avoided participating in your death?
Yes, Lord, I have to die—with you, through you, and in you—
and thus become ready to recognize you
when you appear to me in your Resurrection.
There is so much in me that needs to die:
false attachments, greed and anger, impatience and stinginess….
I see clearly now how little I have died with you,
really gone your way and been faithful to it.
O Lord, make this Lenten season different from the other ones.
Let me find you again. Amen.
[PHOTO by Madison1969 on photobucket]