Lent 2021 | Prayer
Prayer is an act of communication by humans with the sacred or holy.
The origin of prayer is to be found—essentially and existentially—in the recognition and invocation of the creator-god, the god of heaven.
Prayer is a significant and universal aspect of religion, whether of primitive peoples or of modern mystics, that expresses the broad range of religious feelings and attitudes that command human relations with the sacred or holy. Described by some scholars as religion’s primary mode of expression, prayer is said to be to religion what rational thought is to philosophy; it is the very expression of living religion. - From www.britannica.com
In the living tradition of prayer, each Church proposes to its faithful, according to its historic, social, and cultural context, a language for prayer: words, melodies, gestures, iconography. The Magisterium of the Church has the task of discerning the fidelity of these ways of praying to the tradition of apostolic faith; it is for pastors and catechists to explain their meaning, always in relation to Jesus Christ. - From Cathecism of the Church, Article 2, The Way of Prayer
Find a compilation of Lent prayers from JesuitResource.org for general use throughout the season
Incorporate these Wednesday Lenten Meditations into your weekly prayer routine to help you Grow in Friendship with God
"Lent is a great time to give God a chance to convince you of his desire for your friendship. Traditionally Lent has been a time of engaging in practices of penance or prayer that will ready us to experience, more and more deeply, the almost unbelievable love and generosity of God toward us wayward human beings." - William A. Barry, SJ
An Examen for the First Week of Lent from From Ashes to Glory, Lenten series from IgnatianSpirituality.com
Let Us Pray Together
Invite Us Deeper
Almighty and ever living God,
you invite us deeper into your world, your people, your Lent.
May this time be one of outward focus;
seeking you in those we often ignore.
Help us live a Lent focused on freedom, generosity, and encounter.
Give us hearts hungry to serve you
and those who need what we have to give.
- Author Unknown
"Ignatian spirituality reminds us that God pursues us in the routines of our home and work life, and in the hopes and fears of life's challenges." JesuitPrayer.org opens their website with this message. Saint Ignatius, through his Spiritual Exercises and teachings, laid the foundation for prayer to move from contemplation to service.
For daily Ignatian prayer, download the Jesuit Prayer app! There are Apple and Android versions.
You can also find daily Lent prayers from Creighton Online Ministries.
Ignatian Lent from the Jesuit Conference shares reflections from across the Jesuit network. Sign up for their series to have these delivered to your inbox. Watch Shannon Evans reflect on "Ignatian Prayer, Imaginative Prayer."
A Reflection on Prayer
“As I reflect on the theme of prayer, I think of its importance to each and every day of my existence. My time of prayer signifies a daily period of reflection, gratitude and a connection to the Lord. It is the one period of each and every day to be fully removed from the daily grind of pressures and concerns, which is of utmost importance during such a difficult world right one. Further, prayer is a time for family to come together and express our feelings and cherish our blessings. My wife, twins and I pray together every night before bed, which includes general prayers as well as a list of what we are thankful for and our best and worst parts of the day. These precious moments keep us grounded, humble and faithful to our Lord and Savior.” – From ASN Board Treasurer Michael Bizzario (Fairfield `94)
Let Us Pray Together
Take, Lord, and Receive Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will. All I have and call my own. Whatever I have or hold, you have given me. I return it all to you and surrender it wholly to be governed by your will. Give me only your love and your grace and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.
- St. Ignatius, from the end of the Spiritual Exercises
Origin of Ignatian Examen
Watch Fr. William Watson, SJ, tell the story of Ignatius' conversion and the origin of the popular Ignatian Examen prayer.
St. Ignatius invites us to find God in all things. That means we have to pay careful attention to how the Spirit is moving in each moment of our daily lives. We have to take a magnifying glass to the seemingly ordinary, seeking to encounter the Divine. - From Jesuits.org
Learn HOW to pray the Examen.
This popular prayer can be, and has been, adapted into many variations. It is used by Catholics and Protestants alike. Find a variation for your daily reflection/prayer from JesuitResource.org or Jesuits.org. There are endless adaptations to fit any situation!
From this week's member reflection by Joshua Madrid (Regis U `16), download the Reimagining the Examen app to access daily variations of the prayer.
Find Examen for each week of Lent in the From Ashes to Glory series from IgnatianSpirituality.com. Here is the Examen for Week Three.
Let Us Pray Together
An ASN Daily Examen
Take time to be still and be aware of God’s presence. Have a grateful heart as you review the day:
◦How did I use or not use my intellectual and other gifts to promote God’s kingdom here on earth, especially for those least respected by society? (scholarship)
◦How did I engage or not engage with my sisters and brothers in the service of faith and the promotion of justice? (loyalty)
◦What were the actions I took or did not take to contribute to building a just and decent world? (service)
Appreciate the feelings, both positive and negative, that were aroused as you went over your day, examining actions you took or failed to take. Are these feelings affirming, troubling, energizing, challenging, deflating, etc.? Narrow down on one of your actions or inactions from your review that you need to address to become a more authentic follower of the ideals of ASN. Know that you can rely on God’s help, so seek the grace that you need for the day ahead. Surrender to God’s will, confident that God cares for you.
Loving and gracious God, I give you thanks for the day that has gone past. As I move towards tomorrow, help me to continue being committed to intellectual integrity and the pursuit of wisdom. Help me to be loyal to the moral, social and Ignatian ideals of my Jesuit education. And, help me to continually strive to be genuinely committed to the well-being of others. Amen.
- Fr. Nicky Santos, SJ, Rector, Creighton Jesuit Community, former MU ASN Adviser
Try a visual prayer experience this Lent. Arts & Faith: Lent from Loyola Press uses art to enhance your prayer. This week looks at "Interview between Jesus and Nicodemus," by James Tissot.
Vinita Hampton Wright writes in her article Visual Prayer about the sensual aspects of faith that are present in other cultures and religions and often downplayed in Catholicism and even in Western culture at large. In a culture so focused on words, she questions, "What might this gap in our spiritual literacy mean for prayer?"
Fr. Bob Gilroy, SJ, has spent his life exploring the connection between art and prayer. He offers retreats and trains spiritual directors based on this intersection. Fr. Gilroy sees his artful prayer as a way of taking Ignatius' teaching of imaginative prayer to the next level. Loyola Press writes about Fr. Gilroy in Praying with Paintbrushes. He offers this guide to praying with art:
Let Us Pray Together
Be With Us Today
Father in heaven,
you have given us a mind to know you,
a will to serve you,
and a heart to love you.
Be with us today in all that we do,
so that your light may shine out in our lives.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
- By St Thomas More (1478-1535)
Learning to Pray
Perhaps this Lent can be a period of learning - or re-learning - to pray. Listen to the AMDG podcast featuring Jim Martin, SJ, discussing his new book Learning to Pray: A Guide for Everyone.
As we learn to pray, or incorporate prayer, Loyola Press shares 8 Ways to Pray During Lent.
If audio and podcasts are your preferred format, listen to Along the Way: A Jesuit Prayer Podcast with two young Jesuits in their final stage of formation. Their excitement for prayer may give your own prayer new life.
Creighton Online Ministries is a robust resource for Ignatian spirituality resources. Find a prayer for each day of Lent this year. Below, I offer the prayer from Monday, March 22, for us to pray together.
Let Us Pray Together
God of love,
I know that you are the source of all
that is good and graced in my life.
Help me to move from the life of sin
to which I so often cling,
into the new life of grace you offer me.
You know what I need to prepare for your kingdom.
Bless me with those gifts.
Stations of the Cross
Jesuits Midwest offers The Way of the Cross, a wonderful Stations of the Cross audio and visual online resource.
JRSUSA.org also has a Stations of the Cross program to enrich your experience of this traditional prayer. JRS welcomed Jim Martin, SJ, for a live reading of the Stations. If you missed it, you can watch the recording here.
As we follow the suffering of Christ this week, the reflection Lamentation: The Weight of Grief based on the Niccolo dell'Arca statue Mourning Over the Dead Christ brings us to a deeper sense of the grief and devastation of Good Friday. It may also bring us to a deeper understanding of our own grief.
Seven Last Words
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
“Today you will be with me in Paradise.”
“Woman, this is your son” . . . “This is your mother.”
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
“It is finished.”
“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
[Sources: Loyola Press, U.S. Catholic, The Word Among Us]
Pray As You Go created an audio Lenten retreat based on Jim Martin, SJ's book, Seven Last Words, which explores the last statements of Christ on the cross. Let this series of reflections, using excerpts from the book, guide us to a deeper understanding of Christ's love for us.
If you want a quick way to pray with the seven last words of Christ, watch this Jesuit Post One-Minute Homily: "Jesus' Last Seven Words."
Let Us Pray Together
That You would narrow down Your love,
Lord God of heaven and earth,
and find Your way into a billion souls
singly, to visit there and even stay,
amazes me and makes me wonder
whether my mind and heart
can stretch enough to grasp
that You are here, and to keep alive
to Your steady, unremitting love.
My heart is intermittent at best, Lord,
so I beg You to help me
keep loving You longer and longer,
until my whole mind and heart are filled
with You, even before You come.