Lenten Audio Conversations
Transcript of Preparing for Lent Conversation
M = Maureen McCann Waldron
M: Welcome to a series of conversations about Lent.
A: We decided to spend some time talking with each other about the meaning of Lent to prepare ourselves, what it can be for us, and it seemed natural to share those conversations.
M: And we picked this format, rather than our usual pages on the website, to give us a different way of reflecting, so people can burn this to CD’s to listen to in their cars, or they can put it onto their MP3 Players, or just sit at their computer and listen.
A: I’m Fr. Andy Alexander
M: And I’m Maureen McCann Waldron, from the Creighton University Online Ministries.
A: Maureen, what is the first most important thing about Lent?
M: Well I think sometimes we don’t always think about it, but the heart of Lent is baptism. It is about renewing our own baptismal vows and remembering how important that is, and also, accompanying our own catechumens in our community who are going through the process and leading up to the Baptism of the Easter Vigil.
A: When I was a part of a parish in Milwaukee, that’s what made Lent so special, was the journey of the catechumens and candidates through Lent. I used to always tell them that this was for them, but it was actually a time of renewal for the whole parish.
M: Well we get to relive that excitement and the desire that they have. Most of us were probably baptized as infants, so we didn’t always get to be a part of that decision, and we see their longing for it, and we see their own excitement in their preparation, and it becomes part of our own renewal.
A: We’ll probably talk more specifically about RCIA and how we can let that be part of our own journey during Lent and our parishes later, but one of the things that I think is important is that we prepare for Lent before Ash Wednesday.
M: I agree. It is so key; I mean, if I am inviting people over for dinner, I wouldn’t think of what to have for dinner when they showed up at the door. I prepare ahead of time so that it’s a wonderful event. And I think, all religious experiences prepared for, we have to prepare our hearts for what Lent means, and in the days before Ash Wednesday, we have to think about what this means in my heart, what my desires are, and what God desires for me, what is it God wants to give me this Lent, what kind of a gift.
A: I remember that Lent used to always seem to overly emphasize what I was going to do, you know, what I was going to give up, some test of willpower, so that I was going to show God something and starting with that sense that God wants to give me something, and then the reflection on what is it that I want to be open to, what gift God wants to give me, to free me, to make me more open to this relationship with God, that I may not be opposed to, but too busy for. I’ve got too many habits that kind of get in the way. My heart has been a little bit unwilling to be free, and so, Lent begins with a bit of an examination: what is it that I need, want to ask God’s help for, and it probably centers around openness.
M: I think that’s right, in all that we are talking about. I mean, the four basic pillars of Lent kind of, I always think of them as the foundations: prayer, penance, alms giving and fasting. We can talk more about all of those, but all that they are, is ways to draw us closer to God. It’s not about those things themselves as being important. It’s about those things helping us free our hearts of whatever is in the way between us and God.
A: We tend to think of Lent as, “What am I going to give up?” But those four pillars are a change of my way of life. More praying, some penance, something that helps me. Fasting, which helps makes me more alert, and almsgiving, which focuses my response, my generosity, is a different way of life. And to think ahead before Ash Wednesday is important. Even the day before ash Wednesday, it is important to say not just how I’m going to get to church and get ashes, but “how am I or my family and friends going to eat?” “How will it be a day of fast for me?” “What will it be like to eat just one full meal?” - unless I am older and really need the nourishment, but for most of us, “what will it be like to plan ahead for that day, so that it becomes symbolic and religiously meaningful for us?” That is important, and how will I use that day beyond the ashes. But it can be very important before I get to church that day to think about what those ashes will mean. What those key words are that we remember: “Remember, you are dust and to dust you will return” and “repent and believe the good news”, that’s what this is about, and it takes some time to prepare.
M: And when you’re talking about time, one of the things we say in our modern worlds “We don’t have time!”, “I don’t have very much time, I just don’t have the time to pray”. One of the jewels, the richest part that the Church offers us, during Lent in this season, is the readings: the scripture readings for every day are beautiful and just feed us and help us really get our hearts into Lent. And when we say we don’t have time, it means that we are going to choose to use our times in something else, and I know you’ve said before - I think it’s very appropriate -people say “I don’t have time”, and you say, “one thing you can give up for Lent is late night TV. That gets me up earlier in the morning”. We have to find the time in our own day when are most alert, can be most open to God. For many people, it is early in the morning or the first thing in the morning before the day kind of charges up. And taking five minutes to look at the readings and open our hearts to God and carry with us all day long some nugget that we have taken from that, some way that we want to open our hearts, and something we want to change, to free up our hearts for God.
A: And that’s why we, on the online ministries website, have emphasized in the weekly guide to daily prayer, a way of being very busy, and focusing every day in some way on what’s going on in our really busy day so that we stay in contact with the Lord. One of the ways, one of the habits that we can use is to take advantage of that weekly guide for daily prayer during Lent. But secondly, we can spend time each day just doing that daily prayer for Lent.
M: On the website, we have the opening prayer that the Church offers us in daily mass, in the liturgy of the hours, it’s the same prayer and it always is so beautiful in setting a theme for what that day is about during Lent. And there’s something wonderful about thinking - this is the universal prayer, the same prayer that is being prayed all over the world today.
A: And there’s a link to the readings for the day, a link to the daily reflection on our site for that day.
M: And there’s a small meditation and a closing prayer.
A: As well as some petitions that we might use. And people have told us that they find it so unifying to have that simple prayer available each day. Some may or may not read the readings or the daily reflections, but they are there, and that starts to develop a pattern that really is helpful for the week.
M: And when people feel like “I don’t know to get started on this, I’m kind of stuck here, I’m kind of embarrassed about this”, you know, this is the time to draw together some kind of community around you. There may be your family, a few friends who might be interested in this kind of a thing, even an email kind of partner, who can come together with you, and just every day, read through those daily readings on the Lent website and maybe share about them – maybe talk about them at dinner that night.
A: We have a whole range of resources on the site just to help understand fasting, and understand ways to realign our priorities and engage our families, things we can do at home, that are all part of the resources we offer during Lent. And we have even bulletin inserts, so that parishes or planning committees might share snippets of these things. We have them printable so that we can share them in a family, and use them, but this first conversation is just to begin our thinking and to talk about how important it is to prepare. We will go from here to looking at the first four days of Lent, and see those four days as a unit, and how they open up for us how we can pray, what fasting and penance might mean and the importance of alms giving.
M: Thank you for joining us today.
A: And let’s just say a prayer, Maureen.
M: Gracious and loving God, we ask you to be with us, to open our hearts, to open our eyes, to what you want to give us during these weeks of Lent.
A: Give us freedom, anticipation, a sense of joy that we might use this wonderful season to prepare to celebrate your mysteries of the death and resurrection, gift of the spirit you offer us, with hearts and minds that are renewed, that are open and free.
M: We thank you, and ask you for all of these things, in the name of your son Jesus. Amen.