An intercession from Morning Prayer during the fifth week of Lent asks God to “Help us to do what is good, right and true in your sight, and to seek you always with undivided hearts.” It is a fitting request to make, and to reflect on, as we approach Holy Week. Call it a Lenten checkup, at the five-week mark.
What detours, hiccups, roadblocks, unexpected peaks and valleys have we encountered on our Lenten journey these past five weeks? How have our actions, inactions and interactions with one another drawn us closer to or farther away from God?
In what ways have we engaged in prayer, fasting and almsgiving that have heightened our awareness of resisting or not resisting sin? What about that email from a well-meaning fellow parishioner asking us to do something? Did we resist the temptation to hit the “send” button with a whiny response that we’ve already been asked to do a million other things?
With each passing day, it seems easier to negotiate with ourselves over the sacrifices we’ve chosen for these 40 days. If we’ve given up dessert, have we rationalized that it’s OK to eat granola bars instead? Our Lenten practices are intended to help us remember the salvific mission of Jesus Christ, and our responsibility as his followers to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Each of us chooses our own ways to pray, fast and give alms. Just as physical exercise builds our strength and physical fitness, the practices of Lent build up our spiritual wellbeing. When we exercise spiritually, we become more aware of God’s presence in our lives.
Here are some opportunities to assist our Lenten checkup in these final days of Lent, which ends just before the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday:
• Attend the Chrism Mass on April 15 at 2:30 p.m. at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport. This diocesan-wide liturgy celebrates the renewal of priestly promises and the blessing of the oils. The oil of the sick, the oil of the catechumens and the chrism oil are blessed and sent out to the parishes to use in their liturgies for the coming year.
• Participate in a Women’s Retreat on April 13 at St. Mary Parish in Williamsburg from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Retreat facilitator is Ana Ibarra, who serves as Coordinator of Hispanic Ministry in the Diocese of Las Vegas. Through stories and reflection, she will teach women to pray, laugh, share, create and change the world. Please email Rosina Hendrickson at Hendrickson@davenportdiocese.org to register. Cost is $40.
• Participate in a communal penance service at one of these parishes: Jesus Christ Prince of Peace Parish, Clinton, April 13, 11 a.m.; St. Joseph Parish, DeWitt, 4 p.m.; Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish, Muscatine, April 14, 3 p.m. Confessions are being heard at Holy Family Parish in Davenport on April 13 at 3 p.m. Check with your parish about times when the sacrament of reconciliation will be offered prior to Holy Thursday.
• Participate in Stations of the Cross in your parish or a neighboring parish. Among the parishes offering this meditative prayer experience are Holy Family Parish in Davenport (Mass at 6 p.m. April 12 followed by Stations); Our Lady of the River Parish in LeClaire, April 12 (Stations start at 6 p.m. followed by soup supper); Church of All Saints in Keokuk, April 12, 6:30 p.m.
• Participate in Lenten Vespers with the Sisters of St. Francis at The Canticle in Clinton on April 14 at 6 p.m.
• Participate in a Lenten series on prayer in the Lourdes Catholic School Library in Bettendorf on April 17 from 6:30-8 p.m.
• Attend daily Mass in your parish or a neighboring parish. Visit the diocesan website for a listing of parishes (www.davenport
diocese.org). Call ahead or email the parishes for Mass times.
• Visit the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website — www.usccb.org for the day’s Scripture readings.
• Continue to fill up your Operation Rice Bowl with dollars and coins for the good work that Catholic Relief Services does worldwide to ensure that people not only get the help they need, but are able to help themselves.
• Pray. God, “Help us to do what is good, right and true in your sight, and to seek you always with undivided hearts.”
Barb Arland-Fye, Editor