Step #1: Lectio / Read
Click the link below or open your Bible to the passage and read through the reading at least once, paying attention to what is happening in the text.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
What is the point of Ash Wednesday to you? Is it about going to Mass to get ashes on your forehead and then posting a picture of yourself on social media with a #ashtag caption? Is it about agonizing to other people over what you just gave up for the next 40 days? Is it about planning out your one regular-sized meal and two smaller meals to make it through the day without getting hangry? Or is it about something else?
Did you hear the trumpet sound?
We’ve proclaimed a fast, called an assembly, gathered the people… it’s a sort of “drop everything you’re doing and focus on what is most important right now” type of situation.
“Even now, says the Lord.” Even now. After everything this year has been, or hasn’t been. After everything this life has been, or hasn’t been. Even now. Drop everything you’re doing- now is the perfect time to start anew and return to God.
Ash Wednesday can be a good slap in the face of reality. We are reminded that we are dust and are encouraged to take inventory of our shortcomings and repent. We don’t just waltz up to the altar to get dirt thrown on our heads; we solemnly approach the altar to receive ash in the shape of a cross on our foreheads. Even in the state of our sinfulness and brokenness, God claims us as His own.
The people in this passage understood that - in and of themselves - they were not entitled to God’s mercy and blessings. God doesn’t have to be so forgiving and merciful to us, but He chooses to be because He loves us and wants us to choose to be with Him.
Something that I both struggle with and that I love about Lent is that I don’t need to come into Ash Wednesday with my list of goals and plans on how I’m going to be a better person by Easter. Quite frankly, that technique only seems to set me up for failure/falling short. Rather, all we need to do is return to God with the entirety of our hearts, regardless of what state they’re in. Offer to God your desires and goals for this Lent, and then let them go and just focus on living it. Fast, pray, and give alms.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
What is the point of today? What meaning does it have in my life?
What are my desires and goals for this Lent?
Am I striving for perfection or am I striving to turn back to God and make Him my priority this Lent?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"God claims me."
"Lord, have mercy."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with the Lord bear fruit in you today?
Don't strive for perfection this season. Give your hopes and desires and, most importantly, your heart over to the Lord.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Katie LoBosco, a music therapist for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Cincinnati.
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