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).
In today’s first reading these lines really struck me:
"Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength,
Yet my reward is with the LORD,
my recompense is with my God."
If ever there was a time when I felt like I was “toiling in vain”, these past few weeks have been it: being away from the Sacraments, social distancing and isolating at home by myself, and not knowing when it’s all going to be over so we can go back to normal.
The weekend Masses were first canceled we thought we might all be together again for the Triduum. Now it looks like that won’t be a reality for most of us. We’re just three days into observing and celebrating Holy Week at home. Watching a live stream of Mass, I feel like I’m toiling in vain. Does this even matter? Mass on TV didn’t count before, why does it now? Will it in the future?
Lent has felt like one perpetual Good Friday for me. Watching recorded Masses in my living room rather than attending each day at lunchtime. Streaming Adoration rather than traveling someone to pray a Holy Hour at time that’s convenient for me. Being alone when I’d rather be out with friends. Such simple things.
I feel like I’m toiling in vain for an indefinite period of time. When will life go back to normal? What even is “normal” anymore?
Yet, Sunday is still Easter. We will enter into Good Friday, die with Christ, and rise again with Him on Easter Sunday. We’ll begin to say that 4 syllable delightful “a-word” on Sunday again, even when it feels like we’re toiling in vain.
The Lord promised us in Isaiah that we are not toiling in vain, our reward is with the Him. The Lord has not forgotten us and He is not surprised by this weird time we find ourselves living in. He is right here, right now. Enter into this time of Holy Week with Him by preparing for his Last Supper, walking His journey toward the Cross, spending time in the tomb, then rising with Him on Easter morning. Your reward is with the Lord, you are not toiling in vain, uselessly spending your strength.
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 are the things in my life that I am toiling with the most right now?
How are these things requiring me to spend my strength?
In what ways is God calling me to enter into this Holy Week in a special way? How can I do that concretely?
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.
"Be with me in my struggle."
"You are my reward."
"Give me strength, Lord."
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?
In this difficult time, we will use our Action step each day to join with people around the world in praying for an end to the pandemic of the Coronavirus, for the healing of all those affected, and for the comfort of all those who have lost a loved one. The prayer below is from Archbishop José H. Gomez, President of the USCCB in his reflection and prayer:
Holy Virgin of Guadalupe,
Queen of the Angels and Mother of the Americas.
We fly to you today as your beloved children.
We ask you to intercede for us with your Son,
as you did at the wedding in Cana.
Pray for us, loving Mother,
and gain for our nation and world,
and for all our families and loved ones,
the protection of your holy angels,
that we may be spared the worst of this illness.
For those already afflicted,
we ask you to obtain the grace of healing and deliverance.
Hear the cries of those who are vulnerable and fearful,
wipe away their tears and help them to trust.
In this time of trial and testing,
teach all of us in the Church to love one another and to be patient and kind.
Help us to bring the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.
We come to you with confidence,
knowing that you truly are our compassionate mother,
health of the sick and cause of our joy.
Shelter us under the mantle of your protection,
keep us in the embrace of your arms,
help us always to know the love of your Son, Jesus. Amen.
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"Today's prayer was prepared by Katie Herzing, a former youth minister turned parish evangelization consultant living in North Carolina.
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