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T.S. Eliot: Ash Wednesday

Published in 1930, the six Ash Wednesday Poems were written by Eliot after his conversion to Christianity in 1927, and deal with the struggle of moving from unbelief to faith. At the conclusion of this page you will find a recording of Eliot reading Ash Wednesday.

–Click here to view the poems–

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Archdiocese of Toronto Lenten Portal

“The celebration of the Paschal Triduum of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection, the culmination of the liturgical year, calls us yearly to undertake a journey of preparation, in the knowledge that our being conformed to Christ is a priceless gift of God’s mercy.” – From Pope Francis’ Message for Lent, 2019

–Click here to visit the Archdiocesan Portal for Lent–

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Daily Meditations from Fr. Richard Rohr.

Over the course of the 2020 Daily Meditations, Richard Rohr mines the depths of his Christian tradition through his Franciscan and contemplative lens. Each week builds on previous topics, but you can join at any time!

–Click here to sign up for daily meditations–

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What Is BEST LENT EVER?

It’s a free email program that will guide you on an incredible journey toward the-best-version-of-yourself. From Ash Wednesday to Easter, you’ll discover ways to transform your life in forty days.

–Click here to visit BEST LENT EVER–

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NCR Podcast: Contemplation for Lent

Nancy Sylvester, a member of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Monroe, Michigan, is a talented speaker and an expert in leading contemplative reflection. She talks about why this practice is more important now than ever, and she’ll teach the setup for starting your own contemplative practice.


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DAILY MEDITATIONS FROM BISHOP BARRON

Spend your time with Christ in the Gospel this Lent alongside Bishop Barron and the Word on Fire community.

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The Improperia are a series of antiphons and responses, expressing the remonstrance of Jesus Christ with His people. Also known as the Reproaches, they are sung In the Catholic liturgy as part of the observance of the Passion on the afternoon of Good Friday.

Here is a wonderful setting by John Sanders, sung by Ely Cathedral Choir
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Living Lent Daily

Living Lent Daily

Lent presents a wonderful time to reflect on themes of mercy, and this year’s Living Lent Daily aims to help. This e-mail series delivers daily reflections based on the Scriptures of Lent, drawing out lessons of mercy. The messages also include suggestions for further exploration of Lenten themes through additional online articles and prayers.

Take time each day for Living Lent Daily, and prepare your heart for a new appreciation of the journey to Easter.

–Click here to visit Living Lent Daily–

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Unlock the Stations of the Cross, Examen Style

by Gary Jansen

Monday through Friday I ride the Long Island Railroad from my home in Rockville Centre to my job in mid-town Manhattan. Often I take the express train, which zips me into the city rather quickly (about 45 minutes when there are no delays). After work I have to take the local, which includes numerous other station stops. That means a longer commute. Not fun when you’re packed in a rail car with tired, grumpy, and sometimes smelly passengers who all want to get home. (This does not include coughers or those kind folks who sneeze into the air without even attempting to cover their faces. Nice. Really, nice.)

I hate taking the local, but over the years I’ve come to see that this particular train forces me to slow down after I’ve been on the go all day. Though I usually have my nose in a book, I have started paying more and more attention to particular stations and the stops along the way home—Forest Hills Station, with its tree-lined streets and delicate brick work feels like you’re pulling into a Tudor garden; urban Kew Gardens Station is little more than a platform about three feet above the ground in a bustling, noisy, and crowded part of Queens. (There is a bar on the north side.) Over the years, I’ve come to see that each station has its own personality, each station is a point of arrival and departure for various people doing various things with their lives, and each station, if you pay attention, ultimately tells a story.

On my ride home I am often reminded of the Stations of the Cross, an age-old devotion that forces me to slow down and pay attention to a very particular and tumultuous time in Jesus’ life. I know I’ve been guilty of zipping through the stories in the Gospels—there’s Christmas (presents!) and then, bam, we’re into Easter (chocolate bunnies). But the Stations say: “Wait! Pay particular attention to these moments in Jesus’ life!” Like the stations on the Babylon branch of the Long Island Rail Road, each Station of the Cross has its own tale to tell with lessons to be learned. For instance, consider the Station when Veronica wipes the face of Jesus. It’s a visually dramatic moment, but also one that demonstrates how acting compassionately, as Veronica does toward Jesus, leaves us with the face of Christ before us. It’s a story and scene that asks us if we’ve been compassionate in our lives. Have we seen the face of Jesus in our actions toward others?

In the last year I’ve wanted to get to know Jesus more deeply by focusing on the many trials he experienced at the end of his life. So I began applying a variation of the Examen—a reflective devotional exercise described in St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises—to the Stations of the Cross. I make it a 15-day exercise (I always add the Resurrection to the 14 Stations), focusing on just one Station a day on my commute home, Monday through Friday. This adds up to a three-week exercise, and it has helped me not only to decompress on the way home but to engage in my relationship with Jesus in new ways. Oh, and to make sure I remember to do this exercise, I set an alarm on my phone as a reminder!

I invite you to do the same. You can approach this reflection at any time in your day, before or after work or dropping off the kids, wherever you are in your life’s journey. Here are five simple steps, derived from the Examen, to help you unlock the Stations of the Cross in a practical, contemplative, and reflective way.

Step 1: Choose a Station. Let’s say we’re focusing on Jesus taking up his Cross. You can read a passage from the Bible that correlates to that scene or simply picture an image in your mind. Then take a few deep breaths and ask God to help you quiet your head and open your heart. Often we only try to focus on getting rid of all the mental chatter inside of us, but it’s also important to place our attention on the waves of emotions and feelings inside us. Something in you might resist focusing—you may feel tired, nervous, or angry, but that’s okay. Allow yourself to find a level of openness that is true to you.

Step 2: Remind yourself that God is all around you. He’s inside you and outside you and his heart beats in yours. Try to feel that reality as best as you can. Then take the picture of Jesus carrying his Cross, and imagine placing the image inside you. Let it take root in you.

Step 3: Ask the Holy Spirit to rise up inside you and give you the wisdom to acknowledge God in your life. Ask the Spirit to help you meditate on the scene inside you. How do you think Jesus felt when this was happening? What was he thinking? What is your cross to bear? How heavy is it? How does it affect your relationship with God?

Step 4: Review your day. Where did your cross feel the heaviest today? Where did you encounter the cross on the shoulders of others at work, on the news, or in the streets? Where is God in these encounters? Ask God to make you more aware and compassionate of others and yourself.

Step 5: Give thanks to God for the opportunity to know Jesus better, and ask God to help you to become more aware of the crosses that everyone carries in life.

Image by Enrique López-Tamayo Biosca (http://www.flickr.com/photos/eltb/3285714307), under CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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Be sure to check the bulletin to see all upcoming events!

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