Lent Preparation Meditation
[a note on Catholic meditation: some forms of non-Christian meditation seek to empty oneself in order to connect to some higher power. But Catholic meditation recognizes that all God created is good. Anything we remove or let go of in meditation is only that which is not of God (i.e. sin, selfishness, pride) and we don’t remove it to remain empty, but we remove it to create space that can be filled up with more of God]
The goal of our meditation today is to listen to God so that we may hear what it is He is asking us to do this Lent to grow closer to Him.
So often our Lenten practices can be a spiritualized version of a New Year’s Resolution or a diet plan for spring break or an attempt to Do All The Things! to prove our will-power and dedication to the spiritual life.
But, our Lenten practices are meant to draw us closer to Christ by removing the obstacles that prevent us from drawing near to God. If we can identify our biggest obstacle, we can discern how to best remove it with our Lenten disciplines.
You may notice distractions pop up as you meditate with God today.
That’s okay. We can neither force distractions to stay away, nor can we always force them to leave.
But, we can continue to to the present moment, even if done over and over again.
As St. Francis deSales wrote: “If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point quite gently and replace it tenderly in the Master’s presence. And even if you did nothing during the whole of your hour [of prayer] but bring your heart back and replace it again in Our Lord’s presence, though it went away every time you brought it back, your hour would be very well employed.”
As you meditate, images, words, & memories may come to mind. Be curious with God about these. Ask Him things like: “What does this represent?”, “How do you want me to understand this?”, “Where are you in this?” Ask yourself things like, “How does this make me feel?”, “What does this remind me of?”
Find a quiet and comfortable place.
Turn off your phone.
Let us begin with the Sign of the Cross.
Come Holy Spirit.
Open my heart to receive You.
Open my ears to hear You.
Fill my mind with your inspirations.
[take a moment, or a few, in silence and allow yourself to become aware of God’s presence to you and within you]
Picture before yourself a vast desert.
Notice each detail of the landscape…the feeling of the air around you, the temperature, the color of the sky, is it quiet? what do you hear?…anything else that your senses discover. Be aware of any emotions you have as you take it in.
If any distractions enter your mind, allow them to pass by like a rolling tumbleweed.
Now see before you an oasis.
Notice its features.
Picture it clearly.
Where is Jesus? Is He in, around, near or far from the oasis?
How far away is the oasis from you?
What do you see between you and the oasis?
Remember. It’s okay and expected that distracting thoughts may come into our mind. Notice them and allow them to roll by. Bring yourself back to the present moment.
Spend some time contemplating the obstacles or challenges that keep you from walking forward to the oasis or from coming closer to Jesus.
Ask the Lord to show you what may prevent you from quenching your thirst for God.
Sit with His answers to you. If they do not come readily, spend time here and wait upon His whispering to you.
When you know clearly what the obstacle is, bring it to God and ask “How can we break this down? Lord, how can we remove this obstacle between us this Lent?”
End your time of prayer and meditation by committing to do for Lent what God has inspired in you, the thing He has spoken that will remove the greatest obstacle in your relationship with Him.Inspired by this Blessed Is She post: https://blessedisshe.net/blog/choosing-theme-lent/
I’ve been asked to kick-off St. Brendan’s series of Lenten reflections and I’ve been given the theme of “Return”.
Now it would seem that in the entire process of restoring one’s heart to the grace of God that repentance would be the most difficult element for people to undergo.
It is true that repenting of one’s sins is challenging, awkward and can even be embarrassing. I’m sure most Catholics in the confessional can attest to having that mixed bag of emotions.
But, I would argue that the “Return” element might be even more difficult for people and bring about even more anxiety. If we take a look at the parable of the prodigal son in Luke’s Gospel, first we see that though the younger son had the resolve to tell his father that he has sinned in hopes that he would be accepted back, he would first need to return from the “distant country” that he traveled to “squander his inheritance living life without control (i.e. life of sin)”.
Now try for a moment to put yourself in the younger son’s shoes: you spent all of your inheritance on sinful pleasures living a life without control, and now you begin this journey from a far off place in hopes that you will be forgiven and accepted back home.
Can you imagine all the thoughts, emotions and uncertainties that you might experience in the course of that journey?!?!
Going back to the Sacrament of Confession, what I’ve found and what I’m sure others do as well, the difficult part of confession is not the actual confession… the difficult part of confession is standing in the line for confession!
Once you’re in there with the priest, you just rip off your sins like a band-aide and that heavy weight on your shoulders becomes lifted. But standing in the confessional line you have all these worrisome thoughts in your head: “Is the priest going to judge me” (never), “is he going to get angry” (nope), “Is he going to tell my parents” (and lose my job? no thanks…).
Returning from sin and a life without control requires humble heart and a courageous soul.
Everyone desires forgiveness, but it takes humility and courage for us to be moved to seek it out.
We have to have resolve about returning to God’s grace, we can’t simply desire forgiveness but continue to live in a far off place.
That’s like desiring to be a professional athlete but never playing any sports. If desire is without resolve for action, what results is not any attempt at returning to God, what results is the continued condition of the younger son: prolonged separation from the Father’s grace and forgiveness with a spiritual life dying from hunger and famine in a far distant place from the Father.
We can’t just hope that we’re going to wake up one day and all the consequences of our sins, all the vices we’ve habituated over time, and all the relationships we’ve damaged in our life without control is all just going to go away simply because we desire it all to go away. We have to have resolve within our desire, we have to have the determination to do something, not just sit back and hope things will change.
Change requires a cooperation with grace and we must act on the grace of a suffering heart that God reveals to us. The suffering heart of Christ is the revelation of the humility of God to send His only Son as an act of defiance against all that afflicts us. Let us return to Him who desires our love and freedom and not stay distant in a far of land. God bless the faithful of St. Brendan Parish and praise be Jesus Christ, now and forever. – fr. brown
Looking to learn more about Ash Wednesday?
Check out this video from Deacon Jim Morris’ favorite biblical scholar!