Life for nearly everyone has been upended to some degree these days, and it can be easy to get swept away in a current of fear and anxiety, or to teeter out on the edges of loneliness. In times like these, when many things seem to be out of one’s control, turning (or returning) to daily, simple practices of prayer can provide a deep peace that only comes from opening oneself up to the grace and love of God.
As we enter the season of Lent once again, the cross of ashes on our foreheads and the pangs of hunger in our bellies remind us that we are dust and unto dust we shall return, so we must learn to hunger for God alone—to rely not on our own strength or powers of self-mastery, but to beg humbly for the graces that enable us to carry our crosses daily in imitation of Jesus Christ.
In times of crisis, people often—rightly—turn to prayer. When confronted with the very real limitations of humanity, the natural response for many is to cry out to God for protection, for rescue, for comfort. At times, though, it can be difficult to find words to articulate these cries for help. Indeed, we may feel helpless in the face of it all. When that happens, the liturgy of the Church and the words of Scripture provide a lifeline to God. By giving ourselves over to the Word of God and the prayer of the Church, we are freed from the burden of trying to speak for ourselves when our hearts are heavy and our minds are weary, and we are united by the grace of the Holy Spirit to our brothers and sisters across time and space—indeed, united with Jesus Christ himself—by making these words our own as they did.
For a second year, the McGrath Institute for Church Life launched a free online series entitled “Journey with The Saint John’s Bible.” Across six units, participants are invited to learn about the beauty of Scripture, art, and practices of prayer both ancient and new.
On February 2—forty days after Christmas—the Church celebrates the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, calling to mind the Holy Family’s observance of the Mosaic Law (see Leviticus 12:1–8). Mary comes to the Temple forty days after giving birth to Jesus, and she and Joseph offer for her purification a sacrifice of two turtledoves, the offering prescribed for the poor. In addition, Mary and Joseph present and dedicate Jesus to God, as he is Mary’s firstborn Son (see Exodus 13:2–16).