A Friday of Lent 

Almighty ever-living God,
look with compassion on our weakness
and ensure us your protection
by stretching forth the right hand of your majesty.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Today's Reading

Daily Meditation: 

A Friday of Lent 

and an introduction to "True Fasting." 
We are still in the first four days of Lent.
 
Today and tomorrow we read the 58th Chapter
 
of the book of the prophet Isaiah.
 
These powerful words have such a contemporary message.
 
True fasting will lead us to act justly and caring
 
for those who are most in need.

On every Friday of Lent we abstain from meat 
as a sign of our common penance.
 
It represents our efforts to abstain from
 
- do without - so many other patterns
 
that get in the way of our happiness and wholeness.

Intercessions: 

Let us pray to Christ our Savior, who redeemed us by  his death and resurrection: 
   Lord, have mercy on us. 

You went up to Jerusalem to suffer and so enter into your glory, 
 - bring your Church to the Passover feast of heaven.
 
You were lifted high on the cross and pierced by the soldier's lance, 
 - heal our wounds. 

You made the cross the tree of life, 
 - give its fruit to those reborn in baptism. 

On the cross you forgave the repentant thief, 
 - forgive us our sins.
 

Closing Prayer: 

Lord, 
I know how much you love me. 
It’s hard for me to feel it sometimes, 
but I know your love is always with me.

Help me to use your love as a way 
to persevere in my Lenten intentions. 
I am weak, but I know with your help, 
I can use these small sacrifices in my life to draw closer to you.

May the Lord bless us, 
protect us from all evil 
and bring us to everlasting life. 
Amen. 

Daily Reflection
Of Creighton University's Online Ministries

On Ash Wednesday, we heard about the HOW of fasting, and we return to that theme today.  Maybe more specifically we’re talking about how not to fast.  We are reminded that we shouldn’t carry ourselves in a way that ensures that everyone around us knows we are fasting or making a sacrifice of some kind or serving others in some way.  Fasting for the sake of being noticed completely misses the point, so the message about the HOW of fasting is pretty clear.

Today we go a step further, though, and we also hear about the WHAT of fasting.  I have always thought of fasting as refraining from eating certain things, for my own spiritual benefit, but Isaiah turns that on its head.  The sacrifice called for here is not focused on me or my vertical relationship with God.  Instead, we are challenged to make sacrifices in the service of others.  Here again, the message about the WHAT of fasting is pretty clear.

There remains a question that I can’t shake in looking at these readings, however, and I think it underlies the other two.  This question is the WHY of fasting.  This is important both in Lent and throughout our lives as people of faith.  Do I fast, pray, serve and support others in hopes of being noticed?  Do I do it because I think I will be rewarded in some way, whether immediately or down the road?  Do I do it because I want people to think I am holy or generous or important?  These are important questions to ask and Lent offers us a time to ask them of ourselves very pointedly and intentionally.

If I’m being honest with myself, the answer to these questions is sometimes, “Yes, absolutely.  No doubt about it.”  Sometimes my motives are self-serving and I want people to notice me doing good things.  I want to be seen as caring or important.  This is to be expected of all of us, of course, because we are human.  But the important thing is to keep asking ourselves these questions, each day and in everything we do.  And this finally brings us to today’s Gospel reading.  We are not asked or expected to be in mourning, to be somber or melancholy so that everyone knows we are sacrificing something of ourselves.  Rather, we sacrifice and serve with quiet joy and with generous gratitude.  WHY?  Because when we recognize that God is with us and has freely given everything to us, even our very selves, then we are able to share and to serve out of our gratitude.  If that can become our WHY this Lent, we’ll have taken an enormous step along the journey to true fasting, sacrifice, and service.

by Craig Zimmer
Creighton University's Campus Ministry
click here for photo and information about the writer


 
Daily Meditation by(c) 2013 Don Schwager
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