Lent around the blogosphere (updated)

During the early days of Lent (and Advent) for the past few years, I have routinely spent a bit of time scouring the blogosphere each day to find good resources – prayers, devotionals, quotes. There is always way too much good material out there to post all I find as stand alone entries. So, from time to time, I may post a brief “Lent Around the blogosphere” entry to provide something of a roundup. I’ll never be anywhere near as prolific as Fr. Binky though…! His Lenten blogrolls will never be equaled, I think!  😉

Entries below are in no particular order… sorry!

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Amy Welborn had a moving Ash Wednesday entry: “You are Dust”.  I’ve been amazed to read her blog entries over the past few weeks as she faces the grief over the sudden death of her husband.  I too was struck by the section of Pope Benedict’s Lenten reflection which Amy quoted, and that will appear as a separate entry here at L&B.

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Awakenings blogger, Lutheran Pastor Eric Swensson has posted a reflection by J. Heinrich Arnold:  Lent and Lengthening Your Profile

Yes, lent comes from the Old English word ‘lenchten’ which became lengthen. Funny how smart those old folks were, for indeed the days lengthen, but so does our time with the Lord in prayer. Our time with an open Bible becomes longer. And so our minds open onto new hope, new possibilities. We begin to experience God’s transformative ways as the Spirit expands in our newly dedicated hearts and minds.

It is most appropriate for Christians in Lent is to reflect continually upon the meaning of the cross of Christ. The following will be most useful for that purpose, as well as teach the unintiated into what a deep Chistian faith is all about.

At the Cross by J. Heinrich Arnold
Excerpted from Freedom from Sinful Thoughts, available FREE in e-book format.

Each of us must find the cross and Christ. We can search the whole world, but we will find forgiveness of sins and freedom from torment nowhere except there.

Every believer knows that Christ went the way of the cross for our sakes. But it is not enough just to know this. He suffered in vain unless we are willing to die for him as he died for us. Christ’s way was a bitter way. It ended in a victory of light and life, but it began in the feeding trough of an animal in a cold stable, and passed through tremendous need: through suffering, denial, betrayal, and finally, complete devastation and death on a cross. If we call ourselves his followers, we must be willing to take the same path.

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Ed Pacht, at the Continuum blog, has a beautiful poem “Getting a Dirty Face”.  Here’s his introduction and the beginning of the poem:

February 25, 2009. Ash Wednesday. It was a hard day today. My mood was wretched indeed, and yet, because of the day it was I went to Mass. As Fr. Christian marked a cross of ashes on my forehead, my mood began to change. The folly of letting little things drag me down began to be put into perspective. Sin and sorrow are great realities. Powerlessness afflicts us all, but there is hope. There is promise …

Getting a Dirty Face

Ash to ash, dust to dust,
from dust we came, to dust return.
Our mortal frames such short times live,
so briefly walk upon this earth,
so soon like candles burnt and snuffed,
whose light must cease to shine.
And yet we walk, and yet we shine,
and for a few years we live,
and live for what? ourselves to please?
transient pleasures to obtain, to use, to lose?

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Phil Synder at The Deacon’s Slant has begun a series of posts on sin.  His first entry:  Sin – What we do or who we are?

The truth is much worse than that. The fact that we spend any time at all justifying our selves or trying to minimize our sins shows how far we are from God’s righteousness.

Sin isn’t just what we do. Sin is a part of who we are. Sin is part of our DNA if you will. Sin shows itself in the baby’s cries when she is not getting enough attention. It shows itself in the young boy who picks on others to make himself feel more important.

Over the next few days, I intend to spend some time looking at sin, not just in what we do but in who we are. Perhaps when we better understand the pervasive nature of sin in our lives we will be more ready to repent of this and ask our Lord to come and make us new.

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NovaScotia Scott has A Lenten Prayer of EB Pusey. It is fantastic.  It begins:

God, give us grace, this coming Lent, so to lay to heart our ways, that we may weary of all which is not His, from Him, to Him

I can pretty much guarantee that will eventually be posted here as a stand alone entry.  But not today… so for today I’ll just link it.

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Orthodox priest and blogger Fr. Stephen Freeman has The Difficulty of Lent.  It’s a good reflection on the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 12:1-2 – offering our bodies as a living sacrifice and being transformed by the renewing our minds.

He then admonishes us not to be conformed to the world but to be transformed by the renewal of our mind (nous) which could easily be rendered “heart.” Fr. John Behr describes the passions, in his The Mystery of Christ, as “false perceptions,” our own misunderstanding of the body and its natural desires. Thus renewing our minds is an inner change in our perception of our self and our desires, or in the words of St. Irenaeus (quoted frequently by Behr) “the true understanding of things as they are, that is, of God and of human beings.”

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Mollie at Get Religion in her coverage of how the Mainstream media has covered Lent and Ash Wednesday notes Julia Duin’s  review of a very helpful cookbook to promote healthy fasting: “The Daniel’s Fast Cookbook.”  Mollie also has personal reflection on Lent: “Ashes to Ashes” at NRO (note: Mollie’s reflection is one of about a dozen short reflections posted at NRO. The whole article is really worth reading.)

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Fr. Rob Lord in the diocese of Central Florida has a nice short Lenten reflection: Ash Wednesday, the enormous privilege. He begins:

This is Ash Wednesday. It is one of the most grateful days of the year for me. Why? This is a day that we set aside for the most searching self-inventory before God, and the most honest appraisal of our sin and brokenness that we can possibly offer him.

It is not easy. We are tempted to evade this .  All sins are attempts to fill voids in our lives, in the deepest places of our soul. Yet, sin in some measure is our only hope. For when we consciously acknowledge the seriousness of our predicament before God, at the same moment we recognize God as the one who extends mercy to us even in the midst of the truth of who we are. As Paul wrote: “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” ( Romans 5:8).

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Friend and fellow L&B blogger, Fr. Tim Fountain has an excellent reflection on Datura intoxication and Lent:
(What a great analogy!)

Datura intoxication typically produces … a complete inability to differentiate reality from fantasy (frank delirium, as contrasted to hallucination)… bizarre, and possibly violent behavior… painful photophobia that can last several days. Pronounced amnesia is another commonly reported effect.

Aren’t these symptoms with which we struggle during Lent?

  • + We try to step out of the deceptions of the world, the flesh and the devil – all the “fantasy and delirium” in which we wander each day. We turn to walk the narrow, difficult but life-giving way of Christ.
  • + We try to mitigate our own eccentric and hurtful ways and express more love for others. The Book of Common Prayer 1928 offered I Corinthians 13, the Bible’s great treatise on love, on the last Sunday before Lent.

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The Rev’d Dr. Leander Harding has posted his Thoughts on Ash Wednesday.  I like how he closes his entry.  It reminds us that there are many who may be seeking more of Christ this Lent, who may only be beginning their journey with Him, who may not yet be convinced in their faith.  Let’s pray for them and encourage them.  This is what Leander+ writes:

I give thanks to God for those who come to have ashes put on their foreheads today even if they don’t really know why they come, even if they cannot give an account of the hope that is in them. I give thanks to God who in Christ draws all people to himself and for his drawing power in the liturgy of the church and I pray for the grace to communicate the living Christ to hearts and minds as I put the living bread in outstretched hands.

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I hope and pray something of what Dr. Harding prays is true for us too here at Lent & Beyond this Lent, that we will be able to communicate Christ and help nourish those who are hungry and seeking Christ in this season.

I think 10 entries are enough for now… I have more things to post, but I will either do so in a separate entry later today or over the weekend.

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