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Lenten Prayer Service

Donna Wuhrer and Debbie Polley

Photo: Marie-Claire Dugas


Leader:  During Lent, we strive to free ourselves from all kinds of clutter---material and spiritual---in order to focus on God and turn back to God with our whole hearts.  If this "turning back" is genuine, it will be a reorientation, a transformation. God extends this invitation of authentic transformation to each of us to embrace as individuals and as a community.  May we be open to God's invitation during this season of Lent and a renewed desire to live God's own outward-looking, self-emptying, laying-down-one's-life kind of love. (Amy Ekeh)


*Refrain:  Change our hearts this time, your word says it can be.

                   Change our minds this time, your life could make us free.

                   We are the people your call set apart.  Lord, this time change our hearts.

Brought by your hand to the edge or our dreams, one foot in paradise, one in the waste;

drawn by your promises, still we are lured by the shadows and the chains we leave behind.*

Show us the way that leads to your side, over the mountains and sands of the soul.

Be for us manna, water from the stone, light which says we never walk alone.*

OPENING PRAYER  (adapted from The Book of Common Prayer)

Leader:  Loving God, as we come before you today praying this Litany for the Season of Lent, we ask for your compassion and mercy.  Help us turn to you so that our hearts and minds might be transformed.  Hear our prayer as we pray to you…. “Forgive us, Merciful One.”               

  • For the times we have not loved you with our whole heart…..
  • When we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves….
  • When we have not forgiven others as we have been forgiven…
  • When we have been deaf to your call in serving our brothers and sisters…
  • When we have not been kind, grateful, faithful, or compassionate…
  • When we have been envious, greedy, impatient, and arrogant….
  • For the wasteful consumption of unnecessary goods and comforts….
  • For our lack of spiritual presence in prayer and worship….
  • For our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty….
  • For our lack of charity toward our neighbors, for prejudice and contempt toward those whom we see as “the other”….
  • For our waste and pollution of your creation and our lack of concern for caring for our common home….

All:  Creator of All, rekindle our love, revitalize our compassion, and renew our awareness so

        that we may be your healing presence in the world. Through the passion and cross of

        Your Son, transform us and bring us to the joy of new life.  Amen

Leader:  As we listen to the following excerpts, may we be reminded of our call especially during this Lenten season to conversion and transformation.  Where is God calling each of us to conversion and transformation in our lives?  

Reader 1 – a reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing, you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. - Romans 12:1-2


Reader 1 – on freedom and transformation

Lent is not really about sacrifice and deprivation; it is about freedom and transformation. This is not a time to wallow in our sins and shout woe is me, though it is a time to acknowledge our brokenness, repent of our sins and journey towards wholeness. It is a time to acknowledge the deep longing of our hearts for a more intimate walk with God and consider ways that we might accomplish that.

…A couple of months ago I came across this quote from Seasons of Celebrations by Thomas Merton.  “God’s people first came into existence when the children of Israel were delivered from slavery in Egypt and called out into the desert to be educated into freedom, to learn to live with no other master but God himself.” (13)  For me, Merton’s words sum up the true purpose of Lent. God wants to educate us into the true freedom of following God with all our hearts and minds and actions.  In this season, God wants to liberate us from the bondages of our slavery to self-centeredness, greed, busyness, and rampant consumerism. God wants us to help others be liberated from the bondages of poverty, sex trafficking, imprisonment, addictions, injustice and disease. And God wants us to commit to the liberation of our earth from pollution, deforestation and species extinction.  As you journey through Lent, think about the parts of your life that still need to be transformed. – Christine, March/2014


Reader 2 – on going to the peripheries

True conversion means Christians must not only change their way of living, but also transform their way of thinking in order to respond to Christ’s call to proclaim the Gospel.  It is a transformation of thought.  It is not about changing garments but habits!  Jesus began his ministry in Galilee--a place that was a not only a geographic “periphery,” but also considered religiously impure because it was “full of pagans”.  Great things for the history of salvation were certainly not expected from Galilee.  Yet, the light of Christ is spread precisely from the periphery.  Jesus’ “style and method” was going out to encounter people rather than waiting for them to come to him.  Like his call to the fishermen to follow him, Jesus calls each person not in an extraordinary or sensational way but in our everyday lives. And there — in this dialogue with Jesus in our everyday lives — our heart changes. – Pope Francis, Rome, Jan. 2017


Reader 3 – on care for our common home

Our tradition calls us to protect the life and dignity of the human person, and it is increasingly clear that this task cannot be separated from the care and defense of all of creation.

As individuals, as institutions, as a people, we need a change of heart (a transformation) to preserve and protect the planet for our children and for generations yet unborn.  The whole human race suffers as a result of environmental blight, and generations yet unborn will bear the price for our failure to act today. It is to the Creator of the universe, then, that we are accountable for what we do or fail to do to preserve and care for the earth and all its creatures. - Renewing the Earth: An Invitation to Reflection and Action on Environment in Light of Catholic Social Teaching, 1991


Reader 4 – on living interculturality

(adapted from) We Are One from Out of the Ordinary by Joyce Rupp

I am the people of the East.  I am the veiled woman of Iran.

I am the office worker biking in crowded streets.  I am the Tibetan Buddhist nun.

I am the Vietnamese fishing family.  I am the forgotten one on the streets in Calcutta.

I am your sister.  I am your brother.  We are one.

I am the people of the South.  I am the factory worker in Mexico. 

I am the singers and dancers of Haiti.  I am the aboriginal children playing in Australia. 

I am the orphanage director in Africa.  I am the mother of the disappeared in Central America.

I am your sister.  I am your brother.  We are one.

I am the people of the West.  I am the sheepherders of the Alps.

I am the widow in Bosnia.  I am a child in a high-rise apartment.

I am the nurse in a clinic.  I am the peacekeepers in war-torn lands.

I am your sister.  I am your brother.  We are one.

I am the people of the North.  I am the children of the Ojibway tribe. 

I am the teacher in Vancouver.  I am the Huron native organizing for justice.  I am the farmer on the Canadian prairie.  I am the oil worker in Alaska.  I am the waitress in a rural café.  I am your sister.  I am your brother.  We are one.


Quiet Reflection/Suggested Questions for Reflection

  • What words or phrases speak to me in the above readings?
  • In what areas of my life is God calling me to transformation and conversion?
  • In the fall, you may have chosen one of the elements:  living interculturality, going to the peripheries, care for our common home.  Does one of these readings spark a renewed interest or cause a deepening of response in me to concrete action?  
  • If you did not yet choose one of the elements from the CND Orientation 2016-2021, what can you do this Lent to be more mindful in living interculturality, going to the peripheries, and caring for our common home?



Closing Prayer

All:  Loving and Merciful God, may our hands be strengthened for the work we are called to do.  May our hearts always turn to You. May our eyes see Your promise.   May our ears hear Your invitation to follow You. May our feet dance in Your light. Guided by the love and example of Jesus and led by the Spirit, may we transform our lives and come to know and love You more fully.  Amen.

SONG:  WE ARE CALLED by David Haas

  1. Come!  Live in the light!  Shine with the joy and the love of the Lord!  We are called to be light for the kingdom, to live in the freedom of the city of God!*

*Refrain:  We are called to act with justice, we are called to love tenderly, we are called to

                  serve one another; to walk humbly with God.

  1.  Come!  Open your heart!  Show your mercy to all those in fear!  We are called to be hope for the hopeless, so all hatred and blindness will be no more.*
  2.  Sing!  Sing a new song!  Sing of that great day when all will be one!  God will reign, and we’ll walk with each other as sisters and brothers united in love!*

Other Song Suggestions – words and music can be found on-line.

Psalm 34: The Cry of the Poor by John Foley, SJ

We Remember by Marty Haugen

Hosea by Gregory Norbet

Shepherd Me, O God by Marty Haugen


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