Need a Lenten Study? 3 Options

Ash Wednesday is the day after tomorrow — Lent seems to have snuck up fast this year! I’m sure you would not be alone if you are still deciding what to do for Lent. I have some suggestions that might help you. I’m not going to give you ideas of what to fast from or give up — listen to the Holy Spirit for that. But I do have some ideas for your reading/study material. I have three options that are all pretty different from each other…

Option #1 – Facebook Book Club

For those who enjoy online book clubs (and are not giving up social media for Lent), you may want to join the FB Abiding Together Podcast book study. I’m not a follower of this podcast, but I know a couple of people who listen to it and/or are participating in the study. The group is reading and discussing Henri Nouwen’s Life of the Beloved. I’m definitely going to add this book to my “Want To Read” category — it looks like a good one.

Option #2 – The Seven Penitential Psalms

Meditating on the psalms is a wonderful option for both Bible study and prayer. The psalms themselves make up a significant portion of liturgical prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours. There are Seven Penitential Psalms that are especially good to study and meditate on during penitential seasons/days of the Church: Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130 and 143. (The link above has some reflections too.) My recommendation would be to take one psalm for each of the six weeks of Lent to study and meditate on in prayer all week. Then tag on the seventh one during Holy Week or on Good Friday.

Option #3 – Read the Book of Exodus

You will see a lot of Exodus readings during Lent, because that’s an important book for this season of the Church. It’s kind of convenient — 40 days of Lent, 40 chapters in Exodus. Read a chapter a day. Start on Ash Wednesday and finish by Easter. (Hint: Sundays are not part of the 40 days of Lent. So you can use those to catch up if you get behind.) I’m actually doing this for Lent with a married couples group at our church. We are using this study with the text, commentary, and study questions by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch.

Whatever you decide on, remember the point — to detach from the desire to please ourselves and draw closer to the Lord; to be abandoned to Him. Ask Him what will accomplish that goal for you. God bless your Lenten journey!

How about you? Any addition studies out there you want to recommend?

 

Copyright 2018 Jessica Ptomey

Christ Be King

Just a quick thought on the significance of today, as we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. The liturgical year is coming to a close this week, and we will begin the Church year over with the start of Advent next Sunday. Today’s liturgy in the Mass, and the Collect prayer in particular, help to reset our hearts to acknowledge the God who is ultimately in charge of the universe — but more specifically the God to whom our entire will should be in submission.

Today we have the opportunity to check our hearts, especially before we enter this Advent season — is Christ King of my being? Do I live my life surrendered to his will, or my own? The words of the Our Father offer a particularly important meditation today: “Thy kingdom come; thy will be done.” We are to end the year in complete surrender to Christ’s will in our lives.

It’s easy to make Christ’s kingship and kingdom something external — to embrace the idea of him conquering all the evil out there in the world and bringing it to an end. But it’s quite another thing to turn that proclaimation inward and embrace the idea of your interior life being put under complete submission to Christ — to ask Jesus to conquer the evil within you and make his kingdom come in your heart.

The words of St. Origen from the Office of Readings for today offer a convicting and re-orienting perspective:

“Thus it is clear that he who prays for the coming of God’s kingdom prays rightly to have it within himself, that there it may grow and bear fruit and become perfect. For God reigns in each of his holy ones.”

He goes on:

“Note this too about the kingdom of God. It is not a sharing of justice with iniquity, nor a society of light with darkness, nor a meeting of Christ with Belial. The kingdom of God cannot exist alongside the reign of sin.”

We see over and over again in Scripture, and it is reflected in the rhythm of the liturgical year, that our new life in Christ can only come after a death to self — that sober penitance must precede the celebration of redemption and re-birth. In the words of John the Baptist, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). For Christ to be King, we can’t be sitting on the throne of our lives, and we can’t be slaves to sin. As this liturgical year closes, let us pray the words of the collect for our own hearts  that Christ would be King there, as he is over all of the universe.

 

Copyright 2017 Jessica Ptomey

Remember Your Song…A Playlist to Help!

Happy Easter! And happy Easter for the next 45 days! Remember that the Easter season is the longest liturgical season in the Church year. It lasts for 50 days, ending on Pentecost Sunday. I love the Church tradition and theological significance behind the liturgical calendar, and I found a helpful summary article for those who want to understand better the calculation of the Easter season and its impact on the rest of the liturgical year.

Obviously, Easter is everything for us Christians. Easter is the reason for our faith and the fulfillment of every promise throughout salvation history. We need to keep celebrating the joy of the Resurrection in intentional ways throughout this season. I find that one of the best ways to sustain the focus and meaning of a liturgical season is through music. Well-selected playlists help to create an atmosphere in my home that reflects the current liturgical season; so I have made an Easter playlist, and I’m sharing it with you!

I created the list on Spotify, and you can play it there by clicking the link. If you don’t use Spotify, the list of songs is below for you to either purchase or find in a different subscription music service. I have selected songs that celebrate the joy and hope that we have in the Resurrection, from a variety of musical styles and artists.

Each of these songs is a beautiful reminder to me of the endless reasons to praise God throughout this season — and always! We have a redeemer; his name is Jesus. Because he lives, we have eternal hope. Because he lives, our whole lives can be a beautiful melody that praises him in the present and looks forward to the promise of eternity. We are meant to make a joyful noise to the Lord, and these songs are ones that fill me up to overflowing and help to fix my heart on what is really important, what is central.

Sometimes we forget to sing; sometimes we forget that we (in our daily lives) are supposed to be participants in the eternal song of praise to our Redeemer. That’s why the 50-day liturgical season of Easter is really a gift from the church, as every liturgical season is. These seasons help us remember our song and remember to sing it. Let us not forget St. John Paul II’s words:

“We are an Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”

He is risen! Hallelujah!