What Have We Missed? A Prayer Service for Lent

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Ash Wednesday is a day when we are blessed with ashes and told to repent of our sins and believe the Good News. Each year, Lent provides us with 40 days to seek forgiveness for our sinfulness.

But wait! We are men and women who serve in the ministry of catechesis. Doesn’t that make us good people? We have learned more about our faith and how to hand it on to others. We pray. We pray all the time. Do we need to take these 40 days to focus on sin? Is there anything we’ve missed?

I’m afraid—and perhaps this is true for you as well—that I’d have to say yes! Despite our loyalty, faith, and goodness, we sin. In our prayer today, I thought we could look upon what we have been called to do and what we might have missed.

Reading: Mark 10:17-22

Leader: I don’t think we can all go out and sell everything we have, donate the proceeds to the poor, and give our total selves to the Lord in that way. But what can we do?

We give a lot—but is there more we can give? Sin separates us from God and from others. Let’s look upon the things that may keep us from being fully loving as God has directed us.

Let’s look at the sin of ANGER. Anger can truly divide us from God and from others. Is there someone with whom you are angry? (Allow a minute for silent reflection.)

In your heart, pray for the one with whom you are angry. In your mind, trace a cross on his or her forehead, eyes, lips, hands, and feet. Open your heart to forgive and love this person. Ask God to rid you of the sin of anger.

Let us look at the sin of SELFISHNESS. Selfishness prevents us from giving our whole selves to God and to others. Is there a way in which you have been selfish or self-centered? (Allow a minute for silent reflection.)

In your heart, pray for joy in what you have and a willingness to share what you have with others. Ask God to relieve you of the sin of selfishness.

Let us look at the sin of FEAR. Yes, fear can be a sin. Fear keeps us from doing what we are called to do.

Jesus tells us not to be afraid, that he is with us at all times and in all things. Think of the fears that keep you from being your best self. (Allow a minute for silent reflection.)

A friend of mine—a bishop with many responsibilities and a very holy man—once told me that each night, as he goes to bed, he says, “Well I did the best I could today, Lord. I’m leaving the rest up to you.”

Pray for freedom from the fears that separate you from your confidence in the Lord and the joy he gives.

Let us look at the sin of LAZINESS. Being lazy is characteristic of a person who doesn’t care. Think about a time when laziness kept you from doing what you should or could. (Allow a minute for silent reflection.)

When you are lazy you don’t use your energy, skills, and talents. Yet, these are the gifts that help you serve God and his community. Pray now to be free of laziness.

And finally, are there times when we FAIL TO LOVE? Remember in John 13:35 Jesus says: “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Yet, there are times when we fail to act with love. Recall times when you did not truly love anther. (Allow a minute for silent reflection.)

To love fully removes all sin. When we love we do not let ANGER hold us back; we cannot be SELFISH; we can be free of FEAR. Love does not allow us to be LAZY.

This Lent, let us pray to be free of sin, to be people who truly love God and others. Remember that Jesus has told us: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another” (John 15:16-17).



Mary McEntee McGill is the Pastoral Associate for Religious Education and Liturgical Education for Holy Trinity Parish in Dallas, TX. She is the author of Stories to Invite Faith Sharing (Resource Publications).


This article was originally published in Catechist magazine, December 2009.

Photo by Ahna Ziegler on Unsplash

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