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What are Lenten Devotions

Posted by David J. Lose on Feb 14, 2012

Lent is the 40-day period before Easter when Christians prepare to witness, celebrate, and participate in the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the early church, the forty days before Easter were devoted to study of the essential elements of Christian teaching so that the new converts could make informed and faithful confessions of faith on the day of their baptism. Later, Lent became a time of contemplation of Jesus’ suffering and the significance of the Christian faith for daily life. Christians throughout the centuries have marked the season with prayer, study, and fasting (or, more recently, “giving something up for Lent”) as a way both to identify with Jesus, who fasted in the wilderness for 40 days, and to focus on the importance of their faith.

Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and runs to Maundy Thursday. If you’re counting, you’ll realize that there are more than 40 days between those two dates. That’s because Sundays in Lent are not counted. Given that each Sunday celebrates the resurrection, the Church teaches that it’s not appropriate to fast on Sundays.

The practice of daily devotions stems from Lent’s emphasis on deepening one’s faith through study and prayer. Lent offers the opportunity to take up a “discipline” or “spiritual practice” for 40 days, not as a way of meriting God’s favor but because disciplined practice increases our appreciation and understanding of the faith. For generations, parents would read devotions during Lent and Advent at suppertime as a way of passing on the faith to their children, and individuals would read devotions to grow and deepen in their faith.

The advent of the internet makes sharing devotions all the easier and invites us to renew this ancient practice. The devotions you’ll find are the part of the story that records the accounts of Jesus final hours, his cross, and his resurrection.

I hope you find these devotions helpful. They are brief – most under 300 words – and conclude with a prayer to help you more richly experience God’s presence in your life and in the world. Blessings on your Lenten Journey.

Posted by David J. Lose on Feb 12, 2013 With that in mind, just a few things to orient us to Luke in general and, in particular, Luke’s story of our Lord’s Passion.

Of the four evangelists, Luke is the one who most clearly thinks of himself as a historian. Not a 21st century historian, mind you, but a 1stcentury historian who tells a story in order to teach the truth…which is of course different from trying to get the facts straight. Hence, Luke will take the basic story of Jesus he inherits from Mark, some parables that he shares with Matthew, and some material that is unique to him to offer an “orderly account” that confirms our faith in Jesus.

Luke also has a particular sense of history, dividing the world’s history into three periods: 1) the period of Israel, governed by the law and the prophets; 2) the period of Jesus, when evil itself is bound and grace abounds; 3) the period of the Church, when the ongoing story of Jesus’ disciples unfold under the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Passion comes at the fulcrum of the period of Christ, as the tempter who departed Jesus for a “more opportune time” enters again into the picture through Judas, prompting the clash of Jesus and all that he has come to oppose.

Luke’s story of the Passion itself is often, we might say, painted with a softer touch than is Mark’s. He offers a more compassionate picture of the disciples – they fall asleep just once rather than three times, for instance, and then “for grief.” Jesus throughout is more calm and confident, at the last “commending” his spirit into his Father’s hands. Jesus’ presence brings peace, even among former enemies like Herod and Pilate. And the crowds that turn against Jesus also repent of their sin and mourn Jesus’ fate. As we read Luke’s account of the Passion, we can be on the lookout for several Lucan themes: the power of forgiveness, the importance of healing, trust in the Lord and the Lord’s plan for history, and the importance of women. Finally, Luke is an artist, and we will want to pay attention to some of the fine details he crafts like, for instance, how Peter is brought to tears not because he realizes Jesus’ predictions have come true, but because Jesus looks at him just after he has portrayed him. These dramatic moments make Luke’s account not just vivid, but unforgettable.

(ed. By NGS)

Lenten Devotions