Hear our voice, O Lord, according to your faithful love.
"…take up their cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9.23)
Stanley Spencer. The Resurrection of the Soldiers (1930),
Sandham Memorial Chapel, Burghclere.
An ambitious course of study and rigorous reading is not necessary to make good use of Lent, but some ordered reflection in which your mind is engaged on a regular basis is very much an approved discipline. Set aside fifteen minutes for study on one day of each week in Lent. This will take the form of reading for most, but you should think in advance about what it is that you are to read, and organize the reading so that you make the most of your time. Do not try to be too ambitious, as failure will make the possible impossible. If you wish to read from the Bible, choose one of the four gospels and organize your reading into six sections of fifteen minutes. Perhaps you will want to read through the whole Psalter in the same fashion, reading no more and no less in a single sitting once per week than the fifteen minutes allow. Perhaps you will want to try a book. I suggest J. Barrie Shepherd's Faces at the Cross: A Lent and Easter Collection of Poetry and Prose, from Upper Room Books. I am re-reading Diogenes Allen's little book, Temptation.
Contrary to popular perception, Lent is not private or personal. From ancient times it has had a communal, public, even civic dimension wherein the faithful are encouraged to do good works and deeds of public charity and private philanthropy. Lest you become too private and self-absorbed in Lent, you should find a way in which you might give time to some work or kindness which is not only for yourself. Fifteen minutes may seem a devilishly small amount of time for good works, given the pressing needs of this world, yet fifteen minutes of careful and prayerful focus on service, on what you can and should do as a work of kindness, is not too much to consider, and if well used sets the stage for more extended exercises in charity and philanthropy. Where can you do some good? Who needs your help? What might you do if, for instance, you have spare change? Is there some person or place waiting for your particular skills and graces? Thinking soberly and creatively about these things for fifteen minutes each week is time well spent, and very well spent indeed if it leads you to action.
Our Lord and heavenly Father, you have given to us your people the true bread that comes down from heaven, your son Jesus Christ. Grant that throughout this Lent we may continually live in him and he in us. Day-by-day may we be renewed in spirit by the power of his endless life.
Urmas Sisask (1960 - ) "Oremus" [Let us pray] from Gloria Patri (1988). Ben Bouton's Masters.
May God our Redeemer show us compassion and love. Amen.