What, Lent again?

 

 Introduction

About these reflections:

 

The material has been compiled by Sylvia van Vuuren OP (Dominican Srs of King William’s town) member of the Promoting Group of movement for a better world and is the Catechetical coordinator in the Diocese of De Aar

 

`Lent - Dying into life' is designed to help us reflect on the awesome, unconditional love of God for us ....for all humanity. At the same time we are invited to recognize the presence of God within calling us to some quiet time to be in communion with Him. In that deep stillness we will touch into his deepest desire - that all be one as he is in God and God is in him.

 

An old man was asked why he was holding a bible every day when he could not read. He replied that he was waiting for the Word of God to be born in him. This is a capacity to sit in silence - waiting for the WORD to be born.

 

May we this Lent, drink deeply and with delight from the cup of God's love, joy, forgiveness and healing.

 

BREATH PRAYER

 

Breath Prayer is about entering into silence - a space we all hold deep within us. That space is the seat of God's presence. Mindful breathing not only centres us - it also allows us to connect with the creative world. Here is an example of how to go about coming to stillness in order to meet the God of love and non-judgment.

 

Preparing for breath prayer:

 

Sit/lie in a comfortable position. If sitting place your hands on your lap open and facing upward. Place your feet squarely on the floor and close your eyes. Listen to all the sounds around you - identify them …………Feel the chair you are sitting on…… Feel your back supported by the back of the chair ……. Become  aware of your breathing without changing the rhythm ……… Feel the air as cool as your breathe in and warm as your breathe out ………….. Do thisuntil you feel a sense of pervading peace. Don't force it, just let the breath flow gently and slowly through you, dissipating any anxiety, anger, jealousy, revenge -any negative feeling that you may be experiencing at the moment. 

 

Once quiet become aware of God's presence and touch into God's bounty that is present within you. Draw up from the core of your being - where the Divine resides - love, or joy, or peace, or healing with the inward breath - and as you breathe out let go of any of the negative feelings which may block you from experiencing joy and a deep sense of well-being.

 

We are the channels of God's love and when we pray, or breathe forth God's love, peace, joy or justice into the world, we replace the negativity we experience and hear so much about with the gifts of God himself.

 

This form of prayer can also be used to surround others with God’s 

 

loveand peace and goodness. Call to mind the person, event or situation you wish to pray for. With God breathe love, feel it, hold it, let it permeate your whole being, then breathe it forth to surround and permeate the person or event you called to mind. In the same way surround a sick or suffering person with healing, strength, endurance and peace. These gifts are present within us because we are the living tabernacles of God's presence

At the end of each reflection there will be a suggestion of the kind of breath prayer you may wish to practice. Feel free to breathe whatever prayer may be of help to you, your family, friends or work on that day.

Acknowledgments:

 

The search for greater truth and a more intimate relationship with God is enhanced through reflecting on personal experience, prayer, together with reading and reflecting on insights shared and penned by many sages, too many to list here.

 

To God and to these sages I dedicate the pages of this booklet.

 


  

What, Lent again?
How wonderful!

Lent a time of celebrating an 'engagement', a deepening of our relationship with God, with self and the other. So yes, it is a wonderful time as Lent is the passage, the open line of communication the Church offers us to encounter the Holy One in a more intimate and real way. Our loving God eagerly awaits to engage with us that we may grow in our awareness of who we truly are, 'Branch of the Vine', truly one with God and the other. Separation - boundaries are illusions. As we drink of the Divine, experience his life of joy, peace, goodness and love, we touch into that same Life in the other. Through prayer we experience ourselves as one, connected and held in the energy field of love. We cannot NOT be connected - it is the foundation of life itself.

The love that connects us flows from Yahweh, the divine creator who continues to form and fashion us, who continues to bid us remember who we are. And who are we? My identity goes beyond my name, my role, my family, my culture. Being rooted in God we are in truth...

Light of LIGHT

Love of LOVE

Life of LIFE

I am of the great I AM',

Co-creator, co-redeemer with the one who called us into being.

God's fullness is not only in life hereafter. God is within us as we are within God - no boundaries, no separateness. Lent is that special time when we make space to touch into the truth of this great mystery - we are of God as the wave is of the ocean and the light is of the Sun.

 

 


  

Ash Wednesday

 (Joel 2: 12-18; 2Cor 5: 20-6:2; Mt 6 1-6, 16-18)

How often have we heard this cry from God?

`Return to me with your whole heart, with fasting and weeping and
mourning. Rend your heart, not your garment. Return to Yahweh
Your God - gracious and compassionate'.

 

Can we hear God's pleading to come home - a state of wellbeing -where in his love and tenderness we are healed and made whole? Can we today take the risk to step into that sacred space of Lent grounded in God who is the Source and encirclement of all that lives and breathes? Can we today say 'yes' to God's purifying love so that with him we may build bridges, break down walls, give birth to justice, peace and wholeness, free to touch the heart of the world with love?

The ashes with which we are marked are a symbol not just for today but for the season. They are a marking out, a signing in memory of our baptismal signing with oil and water. We are marked with a cross which speaks of immense love, suffering and salvation. In this action we are called to become conscious of how we contribute to the life and misery of the world. In this action we are challenged to recognise the divine power within - a source of outpouring love if we but 'lay down our lives' that others may experience the power of resurrection.

 

Breath prayer: (Please read the introduction for an explanation)

 

I breathe in:      ‘Peace, be still'. This prayer is for myself.

 

I breathe out: 'I am with you'.

 

I breathe in: 'Peace'. This prayer is for someone or event.

 

I breathe out: 'Peace'. Surround the person or event with peace.

  


  

Thursday after Ash Wednesday

 (Deuteronomy 30: 15-20; Luke 9: 22-25)

 

‘Today I have set before you  life and death, blessing and the
curse. Choose life, then that you and your descendants may live, by
loving the Lord, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to
him '

WOW! We are given the option to choose. Created in the image of God we enjoy one of his most awesome and terrifying gifts - free will. And he entrusts us with this gift because he believes in us. God is confident that we will learn how to use this gift to further life, to continue the creative act of love.

The Hebrew people in their 40 years of desert experience had to let go of their attachment to Egypt and all that it offered them. In that journey their painful, sometimes terrifying experiences were moments of choices and slowly the tribe learnt the power of choice, learnt of its power to destroy or give birth to life with an immediate and long term effect. Learning to choose life, Israel became one nation resting in a deep and intimate relationship with God.

There is no moment in the day that we do not make decisions -conscious or subconsciously. To choose is essential and to choose life consciously is crucial not only for survival, but for our salvation as well. Choices determine the quality of our lives now and in the future. It is said that the Native Americans make a decision only once they have considered what impact it would have, not only on the individual, but also on the communal and interpersonal level.

 

Breath Prayer:

 

I breathe in:     'I am free to choose life'

 

I breathe out:'I let go of my attachment to ……..’

 


 

 Friday after Ash Wednesday

 (Isaiah 58: 1-9; Matthew 9: 14-15)

 

‘This is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying
the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every
yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry; sheltering the oppressed
and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them andnot
turning your back on your own’.

 Now this is the crux of the matter - the matter of dying into life. Dying into life is for the brave, the courageous, for those who have been touched by divine love. This Word of God to Isaiah reaches into the depths of who we truly are - image of God. We lose touch with this truth when we turn all our attention on what the world offers. This is an invitation to live out of our deepest self, that self where true love, joy, peace and justice abounds.

 God asks not for the fat of rams, the sacrifice of an unblemished calf. God asks us to be the person imaged from all time ....................................  'to be a light breaking forth like the dawn, that our wounds be quickly healed'. In examining our conscience we become mindful of the kind of influence we expend on the world. Before the light of Christ we will know that giving up sugar, alcohol, smoking, etc. - though good in themselves, is not enough. In God's love we will both see and receive the strength to do what is wholesome: fast from individualism which frees us to speak with charity, relate with justice, listen with understanding and empathy and enable myself and my neighbour to grow in mercy and trust.

 

Breath Prayer:

 I breathe in:     'I am mercy'

 I breathe out: 'Mercy - touch a person or event with this gift'


  

Saturday after Ash Wednesday

 (Isaiah 58: 9-14; Luke 5: 27-32)

 

‘If you deprive  yourself for the hungry and satisfy the needs of the
afflicted, your light will rise in the darkness and your darkest hour
will be like midday’.

 

Lent is not about doom and gloom. It is journey strewn with opportunities to step into light, to receive life, to experience true freedom and peace as only God can give. God's love is extravagant, no strings attached, no need to earn or fear losing it. It is there -unconditional and all embracing. Then why the countless unhappy people?

 God did not say to Isaiah, 'if you deprive yourself for the hungry, I will fill you with light'. No, God says 'your light will rise in the darkness and your darkest hour will be like midday'. When we remove the rubble and stones of selfishness, malicious speech, injustice and anger, from our heart, we free the gifts of the Holy Spirit already present within us. When we gaze upon God in prayer, we become in nature whom we reflect upon. Therefore it is safe to repeat what someone once said: 'if you are really praying then you are constantly changing,becoming more sensitive to the needs and difficulties of others and less tolerant of injustice. Henri Nouwen, in Love in a Fearful Land, says: `Praying is letting one's own heart become the place where the tears of God and the tears of God's children can merge and become tears of hope'.

 

Breath prayer:

 I breathe in:     'I am space of hope......

 I breathe out: 'Hope ...........  surround needy people, situations with hope'.

  

 

 

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