Daily Devotion for February 22, 2012
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
I hope you will have time to put aside the hectic day and use this beautiful Benedictus, from Beethoven's "Solemn Mass", to deepen your Ash Wednesday prayer. (Latin and English lyrics below.)
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest."
Prayer for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
Prayer for Ash Wednesday
Almighty and everlasting God, who hates nothing you have made and forgives the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in me a new and contrite heart, that I may begin this season of fasting and remembrance of your suffering, by truly lamenting my sins and acknowledging my wretchedness. I pray that the ashes we use to symbolize the beginning of Lent may truly remind me that from dust I came, and to dust I will return, and that only by your victory over your suffering is it possible for me to find eternal peace and life. I pray for the grace of Christ, that I may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness of all the sins of this life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Community of Prayer
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
The troubles we have in life, if we see them as part of God's loving plan and accept them as being what he wants for us, will actually help us to grow in knowledge and love of him.
Even when things are at their worst, keep your peace of heart and accept whatever God sends you as being for your good.
~ St. Paul of the Cross
Luke 4:1-4, 13 (ESV)
The Temptation of Jesus
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 when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
Notes on the Scripture
In most Western churches the season of Lent begins today, Ash Wednesday, and lasts for forty days until Easter. If you look at your calendar, you will notice that the period is actually 46 days long, not 40; that is because Sunday is always a day of celebration in Christianity, and so the six Sundays do not count. (If you thought your parents were cheating when they broke their Lenten pledges on Sunday, they weren't!)
The length of Lent refers to the fast Jesus undertook before He began his ministry. This is a point of confusion or ambiguity for many people, because Christ's fast occurred at the beginning of his ministry, right after he was baptized by John the Baptist, not in the days leading up to His crucifixion. The Lent we celebrate is thus a combination of two different things.
First, we observe a period of solemnity leading up to Good Friday. The three traditional practices emphasized during Lent are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving of some sort. The most common modern-day practice is to give up some vice or earthly pleasure. We prepare ourselves for the tragedy of Christ's terrible suffering by a token, but real, bit of self-denial ourselves. We endure a bit of physical discomfort, to remind us of the agony Christ will suffer on our behalf.
Secondly, we emulate Christ, who fasted for 40 days before going out into the world. Just as he tempted Christ, Satan constantly tempts us. He would have us immerse ourselves in desiring the things of this world — and so, to thwart him, we take a break. We step back and remind ourselves that all of the delicious food or glittering objects of life are not the real point. Although our sacrifice during Lent may be small, it is a moment when we demonstrate, physically, that we belong to God.