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First Week of Lent Fly-Paper Thoughts

By Jennifer Gregory Miller ( bio - articles - email ) | Mar 08, 2022 | In The Liturgical Year

As of today (Tuesday), it hasn’t even been a whole week of Lent. How is your Lent faring?

The liturgy of Lent gives such contrasts to the rest of the liturgical year. I had just a few random observations, or fly-paper thoughts:

1. Be still and know I am God! (Psalm 46:11)

For our family, the beginning of Lent is a bit of shock to the senses. I have had to stop myself several times in some of my habits. Turning different things off has created quiet and down times, in which we are trying to either allow more time to listen to God, or positive activities (praying, reading, cleaning, family time, etc.). But we are unaccustomed to these open times, so there has been some adjusting.

2. “Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor 5:20-6:2)

I’m always struck by the Ash Wednesday reading from St. Paul. The urgency of “Now” is repeated through the liturgy. Mother Mary Francis in her A Time of Renewal says “I hope we will not allow ourselves to think of it as ‘just another Lent’….This Lent is unlike any other. It is this acceptable time.” The time is now—don’t lose this opportunity. Carpe diem—seize the day!

3. “Prompt our actions with your inspiration, we pray, O Lord, and further them with your constant help.”

This except from Thursday After Ash Wednesday’s Collect is just an example that we are not doing any of our works of Lent on our own. It’s not by our merits. The purpose of Lent is not seeing how strong our will is. All of our works, prayers, fasting…it’s not our doing. How easy it is to fall into pride when I stick to all my resolutions! But we are not pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps; everything is cooperation with grace. We are responding to grace to turn our hearts, and we continue with grace throughout Lent. This is an area I keep returning to again and again.

4. “On...Ember Days the Church is accustomed to entreat the Lord for the various needs of humanity, especially for the fruits of the earth and for human labor, and to give thanks to him publicly.”

Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of the First Week of Lent are formerly the Ember Days of Lent. In the current calendar these are not fixed within the Liturgy, as it is up to the bishop to choose the Ember days. The current liturgy doesn’t have set prayers and readings as did the former missal, but this doesn’t preclude the faithful to keep some Ember Day practices within their personal lives. See my Lenten Ember Days post for more information.

Short and quick thoughts. May we all cooperate with grace to continue the Lenten journey.

Jennifer Gregory Miller is an experienced homemaker, mother, CGS catechist and authority on living the liturgical year. She is the primary developer of CatholicCulture.org’s liturgical year section. See full bio.

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