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LENT 2024

 

These  daily readings by Laurence Freeman, a Benedictine monk and Director of The World Community for Christian Meditation, are to help those following them make a better Lent. This is a set time and preparation for Easter, during which special attention is given to prayer, extra generosity to others and self-control. It is customary to give something up, or restrain your use of something but also to do something additional that will benefit you spiritually and simplify you. Running through these readings will be an encouragement to start to make meditation a daily practice or, if it already is, then to deepen it by preparing for the times of meditation more carefully. The morning and evening meditations then become the true spiritual centre of your day. Here is the tradition, a very simple way of meditation, that we teach:

 

 

Sit down, Sit still with your back straight. Close your eyes lightly. Breathe normally. Silently, interiorly begin to repeat a single word, or manta. We recommend the ancient prayer phrase ‘maranatha’. It is Aramaic (the language of Jesus) for ‘Come Lord’, but do not think of its meaning. The purpose of the mantra is to lay aside all thoughts, good, bad, indifferent together with images, plans, memories and fantasies. Say the word as four equal syllables: ma ra na tha. Listen to it as you repeat it and keep returning to it when you become distracted. Meditate for about twenty minutes each morning and evening. Meditating with others, as in a weekly group, is very helpful to developing this practice as  part of your daily life. Visit the community’s website for further help and inspiration: wccm.org

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ASH WEDNESDAY

 
Today we begin another forty-day trek through the desert to the river of life-giving death which both separates and unites us to the promised land. But, let’s not become too spiritual. Those who have the ashes written on their foreheads reminding them of their mortality also hear the liberating invitation to ‘change your mind and have faith in your goodness and the beauty of your being’.

 

How could we understand this unless our spirituality was immersed in the material world, allowing the material, when appropriate, to dominate? I loved the poem I read recently called ‘Ash Wednesday’ by the Catalan poet Joan Maragall. It is addressed to a woman whose youthful beauty has ravished him. 
 
death and ashes, you know haven’t the least bit to do with you.
Don’t let this token tarnish
Your forehead rosy and fresh
You needn’t be acquainted with the gloomy phrase
The priest will say
When he turns your way
 
Her beauty, he says ‘was given you, tender sanguine bud, for other palettes that are not ash or dust’.
 
Our WCCM theme this year is the beauty and goodness of all worlds. We could dedicate this year’s desert experience to giving up some excess and increasing what is deficient in our life, to help us see more of this in our daily life? (Meditation gets it right). Then we might see, like the mystic scientist Teillhard de Chardin, that
 
Crimson gleams of Matter, gliding imperceptibly into the gold of Spirit, ultimately to become transformed into the incandescence of a Universe that is Person.
Teillhard felt at home in the world of ‘electrons, nuclei, waves and the vast cosmic realities of mass, radiation and curvatures’. If only we could see the world for a flash on each of the next forty days with this wondrous beauty, human and cosmic, we would become truly useful.
That is why meditation is useful and transforming. If you want to start meditating or start again this Lent, you will not be alone.
My book on Lent, ‘Sensing God‘, might also be a practical help with questions and encouragement in the daily practice.
Laurence Freeman
Lenten Reflections 2024
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