Malankara World

Great Lent Today

Day 3 - First Wednesday of the Great Lent

Ash Wednesday

Prayer for Today

"Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall declare your praise."

Collect:

Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting
this campaign of Christian service,
so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils,
we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen

In His Steps - A Lenten Series

Today: The Fields: Where the Shepherds Worked

Preface for Meditation
by Prince Mathew

Great Lent is a sacred institute of the Church to serve the individual believer in participating as a member of the Mystical Body of Christ. It provides each person an annual opportunity for self-examination and improving the standards of faith and morals in his Christian life. The deep intent of the believer during Great Lent is encapsulated in the words of Saint Paul "forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).”

By keeping and remembering Christ's cross at the center of our lives, our path will be enlightened and God's plan for us will come to fruition. The act of remembering what Christ accomplished on the cross is simply not enough for our Christian calling. This remembrance must ultimately lead us to the reality of the cross. "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." This proclamation by Christ leads us to a spirit of action and positive change.

Christ tells us to deny ourselves and to focus solely on Him - for He is Lord - He is King. We are to deny ourselves from our strength, knowledge, capability, wisdom, wealth, passions, temptations, and anything that will deter us from being close to God. To leave behind our selfish ways and to empty ourselves, so that God's will may abide in and work through us. As we state in the Lord's Prayer. "Thy will be done", it is God's will that truly fulfills our lives.

Lent Daily Reflections
by Laurence Freeman OSB

Ash Wednesday

'When you fast, do not put on a gloomy look like the hypocrites..' (Matthew 6:16)

Lent is an opportunity to put our authenticity to the test. It is so easy to slide gradually away from the truth, to imagine a lot but let practice descend into a role-play that we perform as much for ourselves as to make ourselves look better in others’ eyes. What a relief it is to get back to our real selves and accept ourselves even when we find we are flawed, unfaithful and generally imperfect. We don’t have to make excuses, just to be honest.

To raise the reality check we are helped by an instrument - which is provided by a special practice we take on during Lent. Prayer, almsgiving and fasting are the traditional categories of spiritual practice.

So to cover all bases, we could begin with prayer. Reinforcing our discipline of meditating twice a day. Refreshing our commitment, straightening our posture. Adding a reading of the day’s gospel. Then giving to those in need– if not materially then in the currency of time or attention or simple acts of kindness. Then fasting – letting go or reducing what we deep-down know is excessive or illusory or unbalanced.

If we do this practice for the right reason, in the right way, why be gloomy? There’s everything in the right practice to make Lent a time for smiling.

Source: The World Community for Christian Meditation (http://www.wccm.org)

Today's Daily Reflection (Daily Reflection of Creighton University's Online Ministries)

by Maureen McCann Waldron, The Collaborative Ministry Office

Ash Wednesday

When I was in grade school, I remember Ash Wednesday as a melancholy day. The sisters who taught us were unusually somber and whispery to us that day. It felt like Ash Wednesday, with its marked foreheads and meager meals, signaled the beginning of a long period of giving up candy – and some feeling that we were all lost.

But many decades later, a look at today’s readings changes my perspective and seems to invite us into a hopeful joy. God invites us to “return to me with your whole heart” and we ask God in return to “create a clean heart for me and a steadfast spirit renew within me.”

Rather than being melancholy, Lent invites us into a deep joy, for we are known by God as imperfect people but we are loved by God as forgiven. The deeply forgiving love God extends to us is like an invitation to renew our relationship with God.

Yes, it might be a period of simplicity, paring down and clearing away the things that are getting in the way between us and God. Lent can be a time to take a clear-eyed look at ourselves and honestly see who we are, just as God does. But it’s a time of great hope, as we realize how much God longs for a relationship with us.

That doesn’t mean we focus on us and our failings, but we can look at the way our lack of freedom gets in the way of our relationships with God. An honest look at ourselves as flawed creatures of God doesn’t mean we give up. Rather we can rejoice in knowing that there is nothing we have done, no act or way of life, no hidden sin so deeply tucked away in our souls, that God does not forgive in us.

Can we imagine the next six weeks as time to spend with one who loves us so much, who forgives and comforts us and rejoices in our love? And isn’t that celebration of love even deeper and more joyful if we have been separated from God for a while?

Today many of us will have our foreheads marked by a cross of ashes. It is a shocking symbol of our own mortality and of the sacrifice Jesus made for us with his death. It is also a public marking that reminds us - and others - of God's message to us, "I created you for myself and gave you my only son to free you from sin and death. Even now, I am calling you, drawing you closer to myself so that someday, I can celebrate with you a never ending banquet of love."

The ashes on our forehead are more than a symbol of our own mortality. They are a sign of God fighting for our freedom from this world, liberating us from the clutches of so many things that drag us away from God.

Today Jesus is calling us to himself in an ever-deeper way, inviting us into his endless forgiveness and asking us to return to his loving embrace. With tears of joy, we can accept his outstretched arms. When I was a girl my sense of Ash Wednesday was that we were lost. Now I see that we are found!

Bible Reading

First Wednesday of Great Lent

Fifty-Day Gospel Planner
(Read all Gospels during the Great Lent)

Evening

Morning

Gospel Readings:

Luke 16:14-18 (KJV)

14And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.

15And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

16The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.

17And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one little of the law to fail.

18Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.

Matthew 6:19-34 (KJV)

19Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

20But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

22The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

23But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

24No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

25Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

26Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

27Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

28And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

29And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

30Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

31Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

34Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Bible Verse for the Day:

St. Matthew 6:23 - "But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!"

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