Symbols of Lent and Easter Part II
FASTING - Fasting is a traditional Lenten practice and a prayer of the body that pulls us away from our own desires and self-satisfaction while making us more receptive to God’s grace and inspirations. When we are hungry, we do not just think about food. We also think about life. And when we get our minds off ourselves, we are able to hear the tiny whisper of God. Before He began His public ministry, Jesus fasted forty days in the desert. No distractions. No food. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity in communion with the First and Third Persons. If Jesus, Who is God made man, fasted so that His humanity might be better subjected to the Divine Will, what about us?
LORD, let me concentrate on fasting not so much as to lose weight but as to lose myself in You. Grant me the grace to fast and the graces gained from fasting with the right spirit. Amen.
WATER - When we think of water and Lent, we think of Jesus washing the apostles’ feet at the Last Supper. We think of no water in the water fonts at church during the Triduum. We think of water and blood flowing from the pierced side of Jesus at the crucifixion. And we remember that Jesus is the Living Water who cleanses us from our sins. Jesus said that He would give us Living Water so that we would never thirst for God again, and He kept that promise by giving us Himself in the Eucharist. We realize that water is necessary for our very lives for without it we cannot live.
LORD, you are the Living Water. You are the one who gives life to my soul. Grant that I may immerse myself in this Living Water so that I may become cleansed and whole. Amen.
BREAD - Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life.” We receive our Lord under the appearance of bread in the Eucharist. At the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the Eucharist as He broke bread with the apostles. Easter Bread is a tradition in many European cultures. Its use reminds us of our Lord as the staple of our spiritual lives. Unlike day-to-day yeast bread, Easter bread is sweet to remind us of the sweetness of the Resurrected Lord.
LORD, You are the Bread of Life, the sustenance of my soul. May I receive You reverently in the Eucharist. You are sweetness to my soul. Amen.
PUSSY WILLOW - Pussy Willow is a name given to many smaller species of willows and sallows whose catkins in early spring are covered with fine, greyish fur which people have likened to the fur of kittens or “pussies.” These soft, male catkins last about two weeks before leaves begin to emerge and the catkins have disintegrated. Because pussy willows are one of the earliest budding trees in spring, they have become a symbol of Easter. As the soft buds emerge on the barren willow branches, so Christ rose from the barren tomb and brought life out of His death.
LORD, in the barren places of our lives, we need Your soft touch and the hope of new life. Grant that this hope bud in us, Lord. Amen.
WINE - Wine was used at the Passover meal. At the Last Supper, Jesus blessed the wine and said, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’ (Matthew 26:27-29) ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.’ (Luke 22:20) At Holy Mass, the faithful receive the Blood of Christ under the appearance of wine. Making wine from grapes is a long process. Ripe grapes are crushed, and the juice fermented. In life, trials that crush us and drain our life from us. Over time, with God’s grace, time heals and transforms what was crushed into a new, life giving vision.
LORD, transform the crushing trials of my life into the new wine of praise and hope, all to give You glory. Amen.
Resources from: Franciscan Penance Library