Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent

About Reading Through Lent

My dear children, perhaps you will not understand what I'm going to say to you now, for I often speak very incomprehensibly, but, I'm sure, you will remember that there's nothing higher, stronger, more wholesome and more useful in life than some good memory, especially when it goes back to the days of your childhood, to the days of your life at home. You are told a lot about your education, but some beautiful, sacred memory, preserved since childhood, is perhaps the best education of all. If a man carries many such memories into life with him, he is saved for the rest of his days. And even if only one good memory is left in our hearts, it may also be the instrument of our salvation one day.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I sometimes fear the younger generation will be deprived
      of the pleasures of hoeing;
      there is no knowing
how many souls have been formed by this simple exercise.
The dry earth like a great scab breaks, revealing
      moist-dark loam—
      the pea-root's home,
a fertile wound perpetually healing.
How neatly the green weeds go under!
      The blade chops the earth new.
      Ignorant the wise boy who
has never performed this simple, stupid and useful wonder.
John Updike


Most but not all quotes taken from the compilation A Lent Sourcebook: The Forty Days, ed. by J. Robert Baker, Evelyn Kaehler and Peter Mazar.  Liturgy Training Publication, 1990. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent

About Reading Through Lent


What keeps a person alive? To live on others. To enjoy nibbling them first,
then eating them whole. To forget that they were ever one's own brothers and sisters.
Bertold Brecht


Most but not all quotes taken from the compilation A Lent Sourcebook: The Forty Days, ed. by J. Robert Baker, Evelyn Kaehler and Peter Mazar.  Liturgy Training Publication, 1990. 

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday of the Third Week of Lent

About Reading Through Lent

How sweet the sound in the city
an hour before sunrise,
When the park is empty and grey
and the light clear and so lovely
I must sit on the floor before my open window for an hour
with my arms on the sill
And my cheek on my arm, watching the spring sky's
Soft suffusion from the roofed horizon upward
with palest rose,
Doting on the charming sight with eyes
Open, eyes closed.
Edna St. Vincent Millay

Bach might have been forgotten forever had not Mendelssohn discovered some monks wrapping parcels in music manuscript—and gave the St. Matthew Passion back to the world.

The St. Matthew Passion is an icon of the highest quality for me, an open door into the realm of the numinous. Bach, of course, was a man of deep and profound religious faith, a faith which shines through his most secular music. As a matter of fact, the melody of his moving chorale, O sacred head now wounded, was the melody of a popular street song of the day, but Bach's religious genius was so great that it is now recognized as one of the most superb pieces of religious music ever written.

There is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred.
Madeline L’Engle



Most but not all quotes taken from the compilation A Lent Sourcebook: The Forty Days, ed. by J. Robert Baker, Evelyn Kaehler and Peter Mazar.  Liturgy Training Publication, 1990. 

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Third Sunday of Lent

About Reading Through Lent

Now there was no water for the congregation; so they gathered together against Moses and against Aaron. The people quarreled with Moses and said, "Would that we had died when our kindred died before the LORD! Why have you brought the assembly of the LORD into this wilderness for us and our livestock to die here? Why have you brought us up out of Egypt, to bring us to this wretched place? It is no place for grain, or figs, or vines, or pomegranates; and there is no water to drink." Then Moses and Aaron went away from the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting; they fell on their faces, and the glory of the LORD appeared to them. The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: "Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and your brother Aaron, and command the rock before their eyes to yield its water. Thus you shall bring water out of the rock for them; thus you shall provide drink for the congregation and their livestock."
So Moses took the staff from before the LORD, as God had commanded him. Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, "Listen, you rebels, shall we bring water for you out of this rock?" Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his staff; water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their livestock drank. But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not trust in me, to show my holiness before the eyes of the Israelites, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them."
These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the LORD.
Numbers 20:2-13

Master of existence, and Lord of lords, we do not rely on I our own good deeds but on your great mercy as we lay our needs before you. Lord, hear! Lord, pardon! Lord, listen and act! What are we? What is our life? What is our love? What is our justice? What is our success? What is our endurance? What is our power? Lord our God, and God of our ancestors, what can we say before you, for in your presence are not the powerful as nothing, the famous as if they had never existed, the learned as if without knowledge, and the intelligent as if without insight? To you most of our actions are pointless and our daily life is shallow. Even our superiority over the beasts is nothing. For everything is trivial except the pure soul which must one day give its account and reckoning before the judgment seat of your glory.
Jewish prayer

I am a vessel.
The draught is God’s.
And God is the thirsty one.
Dag Hammarskjold

There is a really deep well inside me. And in it dwells God. Sometimes I am there too. But more often stones and grit block the well, and God is buried beneath. Then God must be dug out again.
Etty Hillesum


Most but not all quotes taken from the compilation A Lent Sourcebook: The Forty Days, ed. by J. Robert Baker, Evelyn Kaehler and Peter Mazar.  Liturgy Training Publication, 1990. 

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Saturday of the Second Week of Lent

About Reading Through Lent

We are so familiar with the parable of the prodigal son that we forget part of the message, and that is the response of the elder brother. As I read and reread scripture it seems evident that God is far more loving than we are, and far more forgiving. We do not want God to forgive our enemies, but scripture teaches us that all God wants is for us to repent, to say, "I'm sorry, father. Forgive me," as the prodigal son does when he comes to himself and recognizes the extent of his folly and wrongdoing. And the father rejoices in his return.

Then there's the elder brother. We don't like to recognize ourselves in the elder brother who goes off and sulks because the father, so delighted at the return of the younger brother, prepares a great feast. Punishment? A party! Because the younger brother has learned the lesson he has, in a sense, already punished himself. But, like the elder brother, we're apt to think the father much too lenient.
Madeleine L'Engle

"The Prodigal Son," a ballet by George Balanchine
There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, "Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me." So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating, and no one gave him anything.
Luke 15:11-16

Rembrandt's The Prodigal Son
I am spent, O my Christ, Breath of my life. Perpetual stress and surge, in league together, make long, O long, this life, this business of living. Grappling with foes within and foes without, my soul hast lost its beauty, blurred your image. Friendship has bowed and illness wasted me. Stones for my welcome, not a flower I've had. The folk the Spirit gave to me is gone: this child I've had to leave, this left me, that cares naught for me. Heavy the father's heart.
Gregory of Nazianzus

The reason I have told you this parable of the prodigal son is so that you will understand that even sins committed after baptism can be forgiven if we face up to them. I do not say this to encourage indolence but to save you from despair.
John Chrysostom

When the younger son came to himself he said, "How many of my father's hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.'" So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son." But the father said to his slaves, "Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!" And they began to celebrate.
Luke 15:17-24

The prodigal returns,
cast in bronze,
utterly naked
as he kneels
before that Love
which wrenches him
from the dust.
He is weak,
this supplicant,
slight of frame,
stripped of pride
by fall
after repeated fall
into wantonness
and self-loathing.
Now, his arms reach up,
his head tilts back,
clasped by the one
to whom he clings,
the strong one
whose massive form
enfolds him
in sculpted security
and compassion.
Elizabeth-Anne Vanek

Auguste Rodin, "The Prodigal Son"

Now the man's elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, "Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound." Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, "Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!" Then the father said to him, "Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found."
Luke 15:25-32



God is on the side even of the unworthy poor. . .Readers may object that the prodigal son returned penitent to his father's house. But who knows, he might have gone out and squandered money on the next Saturday night; he might have refused to help with the farm work and asked to be sent to finish his education instead, thereby further incurring his brother's righteous wrath, and the war between the worker and the intellectual, or the conservative and the radical, would be on. Jesus has another answer to that one: to forgive one's brother seventy times seven. There are always answers, although they are not always calculated to soothe.
Dorothy Day



Most but not all quotes taken from the compilation A Lent Sourcebook: The Forty Days, ed. by J. Robert Baker, Evelyn Kaehler and Peter Mazar.  Liturgy Training Publication, 1990. 

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday of the Second Week of Lent

About Reading Through Lent

Note: Theodore Seuss Geisel was raised Lutheran.


We are here, we are here, we are here!
Horton Hears a Who

From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish


Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
The Lorax

The more that you read,
The more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
The more places you’ll go. 
I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! 

Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.
Dr. Seuss


People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ 16And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
Mark 10:13-16 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

About Reading Through Lent

The pretzel is a very ancient bakery item, which traditionally was eaten only during Lent. It appeared each year on Ash Wednesday and disappeared on Good Friday. It goes back at least to the fifth century: there is a Roman manuscript in the Vatican Library dating from that period which shows a lenten pretzel. As to the shape: It is made in the form of two arms crossed in prayer. The word bracellae, "little arms," became in German Bretzel, then Pretzel.

These early Christians ate no dairy products in Lent, so the pretzel was made only of flour, salt and water: It was as simple as it could be.

1 tablespoon honey or sugar
V/2 cups lukewarm water (100-110° F.)
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
1 egg, beaten
Coarse or kosher salt

  1. Add the honey to the water; sprinkle in the yeast and stir until dissolved. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Blend in the flour and knead the dough until smooth.
  2. Cut the dough into pieces. Roll them into ropes and twist into pretzel shapes. You can make small pretzels with thin ropes, or large ones with fat ropes, but remember that to cook at the same rate, your pretzels need to be all the same size.
  3. Place the pretzels on lightly greased cookie sheets. Brush them with beaten egg. Sprinkle with coarse salt.
  4. Bake at 425° F. for 12 to 15 minutes, until the pretzels are golden brown.
Evelyn Birge Vitz


I thank you, my God, for having in a thousand different ways led my eyes to discover the immense simplicity of things.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin


Most but not all quotes taken from the compilation A Lent Sourcebook: The Forty Days, ed. by J. Robert Baker, Evelyn Kaehler and Peter Mazar.  Liturgy Training Publication, 1990. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent

About Reading Through Lent

The people of India tell us that by fasting we learn compassion. Lanza del Vasto, Gandhi's favorite European disciple, writes: "Those who are unwilling to let love of neighbor consume them are destined to stuff themselves with fine foods." At bottom, Christian fasting represents a serious effort to enter into the suffering death of Christ so as to share more fully in his Easter life. The church does not preach abnegation for the sake of abnegation. In the spring of the year she bids us take a beneficial pruning hook to the tree, not because she wants the sharp cuts to bring pain to the tree but because this painful action helps the tree blossom and bear fruit.
Balthasar Fischer 




Most but not all quotes taken from the compilation A Lent Sourcebook: The Forty Days, ed. by J. Robert Baker, Evelyn Kaehler and Peter Mazar.  Liturgy Training Publication, 1990. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent

About Reading Through Lent

A modest wish: that our doings and dealings may be of a little more significance to life than a man's dinner jacket is to his digestion. Yet not a little of what we describe as our achievement is, in fact, no more than a garment in which, on festive occasions, we seek to hide our nakedness.
Dag Hammarskjold


Most but not all quotes taken from the compilation A Lent Sourcebook: The Forty Days, ed. by J. Robert Baker, Evelyn Kaehler and Peter Mazar.  Liturgy Training Publication, 1990. 

Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday of the Second Week of Lent

About Reading Through Lent


To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more; it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
William Shakespeare


To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only underground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
April
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.
Edna St. Vincent Millay


God plays upon the harp of the Spirit,
Sounding the strings strongest in love:
And to this mystical music
Humanity is beckoned to sing.
Mechthlid of Heifta



Most but not all quotes taken from the compilation A Lent Sourcebook: The Forty Days, ed. by J. Robert Baker, Evelyn Kaehler and Peter Mazar.  Liturgy Training Publication, 1990. 

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