A Long Loving Look at the Real

The First Week of Lent

Opening
Lord, in the quietness of these moments, deepen my awareness of your presence with me.
Encourage me through your love and grace to be transparent with you. As we reflect together, may your unconditional welcome open my heart to you and may I rest there.

Reflection
As we journey through Lent,
we do so slowly, purposefully.
May our senses be awakened
as we mindfully walk towards the cross and then the empty tomb
attuned to the Lord’s voice.
What do we hear on the way when we encounter brokenness within ourselves and others in the gospel story?
We pause to notice and to contemplate, to do as Walter Burghardt SJ writes, “to take a long, loving look at the real.”
We take our time in order to genuinely see.
We do this mindful of God’s unconditional love for us.
We look with honesty, not to beat ourselves up, but to seek forgiveness and wholeness.
We listen for God’s invitation to us said with love.

Read the scripture through slowly a couple of times. Notice what draws you and pause there. Talk to the Lord about what stirs you within.

Invitation: Psalm Luke 4:1-13
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’” And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

Juan de FlandesThe Temptation of Christ
circa 1500

Prayer of Examen
One of the gifts we get from St. Ignatius is the Prayer of Examen.
It is often prayed at the end of the day, though some pray it in the morning.
There are many variations of it. Its purpose is to look back on one’s day
through the eyes of grace by envisioning the Lord’s presence beside us
and inviting the Spirit to guide and speak to us in the prayer.
You are invited to pray this prayer of gratitude and grace now.

The Prayer of Examen

  1. Be aware of God’s presence and thank God for it.
  2. Envision Jesus standing next to you as you pray. Invite Him to guide you as you review your day. Ask Him to help you see the day through the eyes of grace.
  3. Review all that has been good throughout the day, from the smallest gift to the most significant of gifts. You may want to recall one blessing in particular. Savor it. Offer God thanks.
  4. Ask Jesus to show you where in the day you missed Him.
  5. Was there a place in the day where you were not present to Him, yourself, or others? Ask for forgiveness. Receive God’s grace.
  6. Commit the next day to God, asking for God’s guidance and grace in it.

Closing Prayer
Lord, I come before you
Comforted that you know what it means to be tempted.
How much it means
to know that you understand.
Lord, help me to hunger for what feeds the soul,
to desire and seek after what is most important,
And to trust you in everything.
Help me to view myself and others
with your eyes of grace and unconditional love.
Help me to walk in the freedom of your forgiveness
And in the light of your presence. Amen.

Ash Wednesday

Image by TC_Perch on Pixabay

Opening
Lord, as I sit here with you, quiet my heart and mind. In the stillness, stir in me a deeper sense of your love that invites me to come as I am with all that I bring. As we reflect together, may your unconditional welcome open my heart to  you and may I rest there.

Reflection
As we journey through Lent,
we do so slowly, purposefully.
May our senses be awakened
as we mindfully walk towards the cross and then the empty tomb,
attuned to the Lord’s voice.
What do we hear on the way when we encounter brokenness within ourselves and others in the gospel story?
We pause to notice and to contemplate,
to do as Walter Burghardt SJ writes, “to take a long, loving look at the real.”
We take our time in order to genuinely see.
We do this mindful of God’s unconditional love for us.
We look with honesty, not to beat ourselves up, but to seek forgiveness and wholeness.
We listen for God’s invitation to us said with love.

Lectio Divina, which means Divine Reading, is a spiritual practice done with scripture. It isn’t so much that we read scripture as that scripture reads us. We approach scripture prayerfully and ask God to speak to us through it.
Read the scripture through slowly four times. The first time just read it through.
The second time notice if there is a word or phrase that shimmers or that you are drawn to.
The third time notice if there is an invitation from God to you. Let your heart respond.
The fourth time, as you read it, simply rest in the Word.

Scripture: Psalm 51:1-3, 10-12
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.”

Prayer for Ash Wednesday
Lord, I come as I am
As I do, I present myself
before you
Offering
My grief and pain
My inward wanderings and outward failures
My despair and seemingly powerlessness to change
My hopes dashed and my poor reflection
I offer you the cracked vessel that I am
Knowing you welcome it all in your potter’s hands
You remold and make me
Seeing what I cannot see
The value in me
As one created in your image
And deeply loved by you.
You remind me that it is through the cracks
That the light gets in
It is through the cracks
That your light shines.*
So help me to listen to and embrace my shadow
For it has much to teach me.
I offer myself to you with the ashes and cracks
Knowing transformation lies within your hands.

Closing Prayer
Lord, help us on our lenten journey to walk slowly and purposefully. Help us to hear and notice you. Enable us to see through your eyes your grace that heals, restores, and renews. May your presence be palpable as we mindfully walk the way to the cross with you. Amen.

*Musician Leonard Cohen wrote these lyrics in his song “Anthem”:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.