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Our Lenten Journey Sacrifice, Penance or Conversion?

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Presentation on theme: "Our Lenten Journey Sacrifice, Penance or Conversion?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Our Lenten Journey Sacrifice, Penance or Conversion?

2 Origin of the word The Teutonic word Lent, which we employ to denote the forty days' fast preceding Easter, originally meant no more than the spring season. Still it has been used from the Anglo-Saxon period to translate the more significant Latin term quadragesima (French carême,Italian quaresima, Spanish cuaresma), meaning the "forty days. So Lent is not something we remove from our clothes dryer! That is Lint!

3 Duration of the fast In determining this period of forty days the example of Moses, Elijah, and Jesus must have exercised a predominant influence

4 Origin of the custom Some of the Fathers as early as the fifth century supported the view that this forty days' fast was of Apostolic institution. But the best modern scholars are almost unanimous in rejecting this view, for in the existing remains of the first three centuries we find both considerable diversity of practice regarding the fast before Easter and also a gradual process of development in the matter of its duration.

5 Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt but after a time the people became dissatisfied. The Lords Sentence. (Num 14:10-12) The whole community threatened to stone them. But the glory of the LORD appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites. And the LORD said to Moses: How long will this people spurn me? How long will they not trust me, despite all the signs I have performed among them?

6 But as for you, your bodies shall fall here in the wilderness, while your children will wander for forty years, suffering for your infidelity, till the last of you lies dead in the wilderness. Corresponding to the number of days you spent reconnoitering the landforty daysyou shall bear your punishment one year for each day: forty years. Thus you will realize what it means to oppose me. I, the LORD, have spoken; and I will surely do this to this entire wicked community that conspired against me: here in the wilderness they shall come to their end and there they will die. (Num 14:32-35)

7 Elijah.Elijah was afraid and fled for his life, going to Beer-sheba of Judah. He left his servant there and went a days journey into the wilderness, until he came to a solitary broom tree and sat beneath it. He prayed for death: Enough, LORD! Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors. He got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb. 1Kings 19:3-5; 7-8) There he came to a cave, where he took shelter. But the word of the LORD came to him: Why are you here, Elijah? He answered: I have been most zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts, but the Israelites have forsaken your covenant. They have destroyed your altars and murdered your prophets by the sword. I alone remain, and they seek to take my life.11 c Then the LORD said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD; * the LORD will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORDbut the LORD was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquakebut the LORD was not in the earthquake;12after the earthquake, fire but the LORD was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound. * c * 13When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, Why are you here, Elijah?14 (1Kg 19:10-14)

8 Jesus M ATTHEW, C HAPTER 4: 1-17 The Temptation of Jesus: This passage is often used as a model for our own Lenten journey. Jesus himself in order to prepare himself for the rigors of his upcoming ministry went into the desert for fasting and prayer. In the desert, he worked out what his life and ministry would be about. Praying in the desert

9 M ATTHEW, C HAPTER 4: 1-17 * a Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.2 b He fasted for forty days and forty nights, * and afterwards he was hungry.3The tempter approached and said to him, If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.4 * He said in reply, It is written: * a b * One does not live by bread alone, But by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God. 5 * Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple,6and said to him, If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: * He will command his angels concerning you and with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone. d d 7Jesus answered him, Again it is written, and You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test. e 8Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence,9and he said to him, All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me. * 10At this, Jesus said to him, Get away, Satan! It is written: e * The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve. 11Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him. 17 * From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. *

10 Lent in the Modern Church We are not placating an angry God!!!! We are the beloved of God who have strayed, who are less than perfect. We, as a modern church, are about restoring or improving a relationship which is less than perfect. Not a quid pro quo. In other words, If I do this, then youll do that. We are not trading with God! God loves us but he doesnt require anything whatsoever that we can do for him. For a thousand years the Jewish people sacrificed animals and grain offerings at the Temple in Jerusalem as atonement for sin. But they continued to miss the mark, to miss the point of Gods teaching and lived sinful lives but sought atonement at the temple. Soon, through the prophets and psalmists God began to make it known that this is not what he wants from his people.

11 The Prophets and Psalmists Psalm 40:6 Sacrifices and offering you did not desire but my ears you have opened burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Psalm 40:6 Isaiah 1:11 The multitude of your sacrifices what are they to me? says the LORD. I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. Isaiah 1:11 Jeremiah 6:20 what do I care about incense from Sheba or sweet calamus from a distant land? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable; your sacrifices do not please me. Jeremiah 6:20 Hosea 6:6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6 Amos 5:22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Amos 5:22 Micah 6:6-9 With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow before God most high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? e e 7Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with myriad streams of oil? * Shall I give my firstborn for my crime, * the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 * You have been told, O mortal, what is good, * and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God. f f

12 Conversion We are speaking of conversion. In the Old Testament the Jews knew that they sinned and would offer sacrifice to God. Note this passage from Leviticus: Present with this bread seven male lambs, each a year old and without defect, one young bull and two rams. They will be a burnt offering to the LORD, together with their grain offerings and drink offeringsa food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD. Leviticus 23:17-19 Leviticus 23:17-19 Large portions of the book of Leviticus detail ways in which sin offerings were to be presented to God to atone for sin. Ezekiel 36: l I will sprinkle clean water over you to make you clean; from all your impurities and from all your idols I will cleanse you.26 m I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. n 27I will put my spirit within you so that you walk in my statutes, observe my ordinances, and keep them. o 28You will live in the land I gave to your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God. p 29 l m n o p

13 More Conversion! Tobit 13:6: When you turn back to him with all your heart, and with all your soul do what is right before him, Then he will turn to you, and will hide his face from you no longer

14 John the Baptist Matthew 3:1-4 The Preaching of John the Baptist. : a 1In those days John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea * 2[and] saying, Repent, * for the kingdom of heaven is at hand! 3 * It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said: a * A voice of one crying out in the desert, Prepare the way of the Lord, Make straight his paths. Luke 3:7-17 He said to the crowds who came out to be baptized by him,You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? g 8Produce good fruits as evidence of your repentance; and do not begin to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father, for I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones. h 9Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. i g h i 10And the crowds asked him, What then should we do?11He said to them in reply, Whoever has two tunics should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.12Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him, Teacher, what should we do? j 13He answered them, Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.14Soldiers also asked him, And what is it that we should do? He told them, Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages. j 15 k Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah.16 * John answered them all, saying I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.17 k *

15 Message of Jesus Mark 12:28-34: The Greatest Commandment. * * 8One of the scribes when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him, Which is the first of all the commandments?29Jesus replied, The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone!30You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. j 31The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these. j k 32The scribe said to him, Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, He is One and there is no other than he.33And to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices. l 34And when Jesus saw that [he] answered with understanding, he said to him, You are not far from the kingdom of God. And no one dared to ask him any more questions k l

16 The Apostle Paul Sacrifice of Body and Mind. Romans 12:1-2: 1 * I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. a 2Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect * a

17 Penance or Conversion? We as a Church, for centuries, took this to mean extreme penances for our sins. Think of the desert fathers (i.e. Simon Stylites, St. Anthony of Egypt). They operated under the belief that mortification of the body, and rejection of the good things of this world will set them up for eternal happiness with God. The modern Church has de-emphasized this approach. Metanoia: This Greek term literally means to turnaround. In theological circles it has become synonymous with conversion. When we sin, particularly when we do mortal or serious wrong, we miss the mark (the literal meaning of sin) by more than a few degrees. Sadly we sometimes choose to go in the opposite direction from Christ, who is and ought to be our way, truth, and life. When we stray, we are called to Metanoia, to turn around, to get back on track, to get going in the right direction again. (Sparks, 148)

18 Metanoia Conversion or Metanoia is not usually an instantaneous event. A few of us may be like St. Paul, who got knocked to the ground, called to an immediate turnaround in his life and way of thinking. Most of us are more like St. Peter, whose faith and moral life seemed to have peaks and valleys, whose conversion seemed to be a bit cyclical and ongoing. (Sparks, 148) Christian morality is ultimately the story of conversion, the life-long process of being and doingbeing the children of God and disciples of Christ whom we profess to be, and by doing those loving actions which further Gods reign here on Earth. And practice does indeed help to make us perfect, or at least closer to perfection than when we first began this conversion process. (Sparks, 148)

19 Metanoia Who we are, as daughters and sons of God, spills over into what we do; and what we do, in the name of Christ Jesus, helps to make us who we are. Its as simple and complex as that. Jesus came that we may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10). May it be so for you, for me, and for all people, now and forevermore. (Sparks, 148) So when we undergo Metanoia we will see the world increasingly as God sees it. We will seek to do his will at all times. We will seek to bring about the Kingdom of God. This is what a good lent is about.

20 Fasting, abstinence, the sacrament of Reconciliation, daily mass, morning and evening prayer, Stations of the Cross, good works, prayer, scripture study, and all such activities are part of it. These things provide the structure upon which Metanoia can happen. So take some time a figure out what you may want to incorporate into your Lenten observance. Consider what particular sin you would like to conquer this Lent. Perhaps in your prayer time you can include an ongoing meditation on Psalm 51. (see handout)

21 Psalm 51:1-3 (First Week of Lent) 1 Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. In your compassion blot out my offense. 2 O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. 3 My offenses truly I know them; my sin is always before me. Meditation Prompts Contemplate Gods Mercy Compassion, what does it mean in faith life? Sin: Identify one of your more troublesome sins and seek to overcome it.

22 Psalm 51:4-7 (Second Week of Lent) 4 Against you, you alone, have I sinned; what is evil in your sight I have done. That you may be justified when you give sentence and be without reproach when you judge, 5 O see, in guilt I was born, a sinner was I conceived. 6 Indeed you love truth in the heart; then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom. 7 O purify me, then I shall be clean; O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow. In the absence of the forgiveness available to us because of the Sacrifice of Jesus, where would I be? What would be my fate? Do I have a pure heart? Why or why not? Develop a way to increase your wisdom. How can I be purified?

23 Psalm 51:8-11 (Third Week of Lent) 8 Make me hear rejoicing and gladness, that the bones you have crushed may revive. 9 From my sins turn away your face and blot out all my guilt. 10 A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from your presence, nor deprive me of your holy spirit When I undergo conversion what would that look like? Pray for Gods forgiveness after an examination of Conscience. Contemplate the sacrament of Reconciliation How can I make the change enduring? How can I have God and his Holy Spirit with me always.

24 Psalm 51:12-15 (Fourth Week of Lent) 12 Give me again the joy of your help; with a spirit of fervor sustain me, 13 that I may teach transgressors your ways and sinners may return to you. 14 O rescue me, God, my helper, and my tongue shall ring out your goodness. 15 O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall declare your praise. What would a life of joy look like? How can I spread the good news? How can I improve my prayer life?

25 Psalm 51:16-19 (Fifth Week of Lent) 16 For in sacrifice you take no delight, burnt offering from me you would refuse, 17 my sacrifice, a contrite spirit, a humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn. 18 In your goodness, show favor to Zion: rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then you will be pleased with lawful sacrifice, (burnt offerings wholly consumed), then you will be offered young bulls on your altar. What would be an appropriate Sacrifice or offering? What is humility? What is contrition? What does a humble and contrite heart look like? What must I do to become humble and contrite? What then would my sacrifices look like after my deeper conversion?

26 Its Our Decision! We too can take our time in the desert in the tradition of Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. We need only make a conscious decision to undertake a journey of conversion this lent, and allow God to work in our lives! Happy Fat TuesdayMardi Gras!

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