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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Stations of the Cross - Prelude: Act of Contrition and Prayer

The Way of the Cross - the retracing of the path of Christ from his death sentence to the laying of his now-lifeless body in the tomb - begins with an act of contrition and prayer. Why? Because it is in examining ourselves, admitting our faults, and asking for the Grace of true conversion that we find ourselves pulled closer and closer to the Will of God. It is a way to put our own sinfulness into perspective and to deny the god of self we are so easily found to kneel before, re-enthroning God as Lord and Savior.

Psalm 36: 2-10

Sin speaks to the sinner
in the depths of his heart.
There is no fear of God
before his eyes.

He so flatters himself in his mind
that he knows not his guilt.
In his mouth are mischief and deceit.
All wisdom is gone.

He plots the defeat of goodness
as he lies on his bed.
He has set his foot on evil ways,
he clings to what is evil.

Your love, Lord, reaches to heaven;
your truth to the skies.
Your justice is like God's mountain,
your judgements like the deep.

To both man and beast you give protection.
O Lord, how precious is your love.
My God, the sons of men
find refuge in the shelter of your wings.

They feast on the riches of your house;
they drink from the stream of your delight.
In you is the source of life
and in your light we see light.

From A Prayer for Conversion of Heart

You have promised to forgive
Contrite sinners who repent;
So I come with humbled heart,
By your word made confident.

I have sinned, Lord, I have sinned,
Well I know my wickedness.
Yet I make this prayer to you:
Lord, forgive me, heal and bless.

Let me not be lost in sin,
Banished to eternal night;
God, who hears the penitent,
Let your goodness show your might.

Though I be unworthy, Lord,
Your great mercy I will claim,
Till I join the hosts above,
Who forever praise your name.

From The Heart of the Matter - Monsignor James Turrow, reflections on Matthew 6

Prayer and religious practice ought not to be used for enhancing one's image. Its thrust must be soli Deo - for God alone. At prayer the furthest thought from one's mind must be "what will people think" to see me praying...After all, Jesus did not say: "Take care not to perform righteous deeds"- period. He went on to [add]: "in order that people may see them." That is the kind of self-advertising that poisons one's good works and that Jesus dissuades us from indulging in. Purity of motive in praying and in doing good works is at the heart of the matter.

Prayer for Ash Wednesday

Loving Father, let me live this Lent in a spirit of true and deep conversion.

-Excerpts from the Magnificat Lenten Companion


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