Lent is here. It begins with our Lord Jesus Christ submitting himself under the prophetic call to repentance from his cousin, John, the Baptist, and allowing himself to be submerged in the water of the Jordan river for the ritual baptism, a commitment to convert and render his life to God.
We see the heavens opening up, the Holy Spirit descending upon him in the form of a dove; and we hear the gentle voice of God, the Father, declaring: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
God the Father loves Jesus and declares to all creation of His love for His only-begotten Son. In so doing God the Father also declares His love for you. God loves you and He loves you first; that’s why He sent Jesus to you. So “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Love is the motif and the motivation for all that Jesus does for us. He loves God, the Father, and thus enters into this world to live, suffer and die for us. He reveals to us not only through His stories and examples, but also by His life and death, the love of God the Father reserved for us from all eternity.
The very first act of love Jesus wants to show us is fasting. He enters into the desert with the Holy Spirit for forty days and forty nights to confront His own human weaknesses and the Devil. He endures hunger and thirst, the lonely life in the howling desert and the assaults of the Devil. He fasts, He prays and He trusts in the Word of His Father. This is to show us how to repent and render to God what belongs to Him.
Following Jesus’ footsteps we are called to embark in this pilgrimage of forty days of Lent. With Jesus we listen to the loving voice of God, the Father; we do penance and deny ourselves. The following meditations are 40 straight-forward acts of repentance to help you look back and re-examine your own life with Jesus.
Let us take this pilgrimage of repentance to pray for our Catholic Church, especially for our priests.
O Mary, Queen of the Apostles: Walk with us on this pilgrimage.
Let us pray.
Grant us, O Lord, to begin our Christian warfare with holy fasts; that as we are about to do battle with the spirits of evil we may be defended by the aid of self-denial and the protecting gaze of our Blessed Virgin Mother Mary. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
When your eyes touch this page, listen to the Word of Jesus: “Render to God what belongs to God” (Matthew 22:21).
What do you have that belongs to God? What is it that the Lord has given you? Make an inventory of anything that you now have that belongs to the Lord. Afterward render it to Him.
Do this when you wake up in the morning, take a lunch break at noon and before you go to bed at night. This practice will bring you back to your senses and help you be present to yourself and know yourself. Each time, think of only seven things. Every time you identify one, render it immediately to the Lord with this prayer: “I render… to you, Lord.”
Now, let’s start with seven things that are nearest to you.
1. How about the air you are breathing now? Do you feel it?... Are you its owner? No. So you pray…
- “I render the air that I am breathing to you, Lord.”
2. How about the ability to breathe? Are you its creator? No. So you pray…
- “I render my breathing to you, Lord.”
3. How about the beating of your heart? Listen…! Do you make it beat? No. So you pray…
- “I render my beating heart to you, Lord.”
4. How about the blood flowing from your heart to every part of your body?.... So you pray…
- “I render the flowing blood within my body to you, Lord.”
5. How about the life dwelling in your blood?.... So you pray…
- “I render the life dwelling in my blood to you, Lord.”
6. How about the living limbs of your body?.... So you pray…
- “I render every limb of my body to you, Lord.”
7. How about the consciousness of your soul?.... So you pray…
- “I render my conscious soul to you, Lord.”
Please take your time. There is no need to rush. The secret is simply be attentive to where you are, now.
The Little Flower said: “Everything is grace.” We know what she meant: that all belongs to God.
Take a deep breath… Let us pray for priests to render all that they have to God.
O Mary, Queen of the Apostles: Make your priests render all they have to God.