by Alice Ann Pfeifer, CSA
The first Christians were known as people of the Way (see Acts 9:2). Jesus had taught them a new way of thinking, believing, and acting. The Way didn’t contradict earlier religious teachings but, rather, raised them to a higher level.
During Lent, we liturgically relive the passion and death of Christ. We know that his lifesaving death blazed a pathway into the reign of God for all of us. The whole time he moved forward toward the cross, he kept looking backward, encouraging his followers to stay with him in his sufferings and their own. These 40 days of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving represent our attempt to do just that.
Prepare the prayer space to reflect these ideas. On a table, place three cans of different heights. Cover the cans with a cloth. On the tallest can, place a figurine of Jesus or an angel among a few cotton balls to suggest clouds. On the second-tallest can, place a cross with a few stones. On the shortest can, place a few figurines from a nativity set. In a Bible, mark the Scripture readings that present the Beatitudes in the prayer below. Appoint Readers.
Leader: “Repent and believe the Good News,” was the message Jesus preached at the beginning of his public life. To repent is to turn from self-centered ways. To believe is to adopt God-centered ways. When we repent and believe, we ready ourselves for life in the Kingdom of God. This Lent, may our renewed focus on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving make us aware of God’s blessings—and help us heal our beautiful, broken world.
Reader: Matthew 5:1-3
Leader: (Pause.) As we give of our time, our money, and ourselves during this holy Lenten season…
All: …may we become more like you, O Lord, who gave your all that we might join you in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Reader: Matthew 5:4
Leader: (Pause.) As we take small sufferings upon ourselves in order to ease the suffering of others…
All: …may we wait in patient hope for the day you dry every tear and take your people to yourself, O Lord.
Reader: Matthew 5:5
Leader: (Pause.) As we pray and work to lift up the meek and lowly among us…
All: …may all of us, whether rich or poor, share in the bounty of this world, O Lord, as we look to the coming of your kingdom.
Reader: Matthew 5:6
Leader: (Pause.) As we participate more attentively in the Eucharistic banquet during these 40 days…
All: …may our hunger and thirst for you be satisfied, O Lord, and may all our actions reveal you to the world.
Reader: Matthew 5:7
Leader: (Pause.) As we try to give up our grudges against those who have hurt or threatened us in any way…
All: …may our hearts grow big enough to ask and receive your forgiveness, O Lord.
Reader: Matthew 5:8
Leader: (Pause.) As we steer away from the sources of our sinfulness and turn toward your light, O Lord…
All: …may we see your face shining in the faces of all we meet and in the beautiful world you created.
Reader: Matthew 5:9
Leader: (Pause.) As we choose cooperation over competition, compromise over willfulness, and generosity over greed…
All: …may the peace we seek with others, O Lord, make you glad to call us your sons and daughters.
Reader: Matthew 5:10
Leader: (Pause.) As we strive to know and do your will even when it pains us and alienates others…
All: …may the holiness we seek bring more of your heaven to earth, O Lord.
Leader: May your kingdom come, O Lord our God.
All: May your rule extend to all peoples and nations, and may your kingdom last forever and ever! Amen.
Sister Alice Ann Pfeifer, CSA, has worked in religious education as a teacher and writer for the past 25 years. She holds a master's degree in pastoral studies from St. Joseph's College of Maine and presently resides in Fond du Lac, WI.
© CATECHIST February 2014. Peter Li, Inc. Dayton, OH 45439
Permission is granted to copy for community prayer.
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