LENT: Ash Wednesday, by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Ash Wednesday Henri Nouwen

From Show Me The Way

I shall judge each of you by what that person does — declares the Lord Yahweh. Repent, renounce all your crimes, avoid all occasions for guilt. Shake off all the crimes you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why die, House of Israel? I take no pleasure in the death of anyone —declares the Lord Yahweh — so repent and live! (Ezekiel 18:30-32)

Jesus,

The Lenten season begins.  It is a time to be with you in a special way, a time to pray, to fast, and thus to follow you on your way to Jerusalem, to Golgotha, and to the final victory over death.

I am still so divided.  I truly want to follow you, but I also want to follow my own desires and lend an ear to the voices that speak about prestige, success, human respect, pleasure, power, and influence.  Help me to become deaf to these voices and more attentive to your voice, which calls me to choose the narrow road to life.

I know that Lent is going to be a very hard time for me.  The choice for your way has to be made every moment of my life.  I have to choose thoughts that are your thoughts, words that are your words, and actions that are your actions.  There are no times or places without choices.  And I know how deeply I resist choosing you.

Please, Lord, be with me at every moment and in every place.  Give me the strength and the courage to live this season faithfully, so that, when Easter comes, I will be able to taste with joy the new life which  you have prepared for me.

Amen.


God’s mercy is greater than our sins.  There is an awareness of sin that does not lead to God but to self-preoccupation.  Our temptation is to be so impressed by our sins and failings and so overwhelmed by our lack of generosity that we get stuck in a paralyzing guilt.  It is the guilt that says: “I am too sinful to deserve God’s mercy.”  It is the guilt that leads to introspection instead of directing our eyes to God.  It is the guilt that has become an idol and therefore a form of pride.  Lent is the time to break down this idol and to direct our attention to our loving Lord.  The question is: “Are we like Judas, who was so overcome by his sin that he could not believe in God’s mercy any longer and hanged himself, or are we like Peter who returned to his Lord with repentance and cried bitterly for his sins?”  The season of Lent, during which winter and spring struggle with each other for dominance, helps us in a special way to cry out for God’s mercy.


Prayer

Faithful God, trusting in you,
we begin
the forty days of conversion and penance.
Give us the strength for Christian discipline,
that we may renounce evil
and be decisive in doing good.
We ask this through Jesus Christ.

Amen.

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  1. Lent: A season of spiritual preparation – effect:hope

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