When you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to others to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.
An invitation to a new path
We begin the season of Lent with the same Scripture readings each year, in which Jesus teaches about almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. We often share with family and friends what we are “giving up” for the next forty days to give ourselves more time and clarity for God. Many children choose to fast from chocolate. Some brave adults pick coffee.
More than a change in habits, Lent calls Christians to a radical and lasting turning of hearts – a conversion. The traditional Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are to be part of the Christian life during every season, but during the season of Lent, we are invited to renew our commitment and start afresh.
The journey of Lent can be difficult – a time of repentance, of giving up things that tie us to this world and looking instead to the life and teachings of Jesus. But when we courageously examine within, name what is broken within us, turn away from it, and turn toward what is truly good, we will find ourselves living the fullness of life that God wants for each of us.
The life and teachings of Jesus help us understand what the fullness of life looks like: love, inclusion, forgiveness, mercy, sacrifice – and nonviolence. We invite you to spend the six weeks of Lent reflecting on Scripture and the six principles of nonviolence as defined by Dr. Martin Luther King. Each week, this guide offers suggestions for prayer, fasting, and action as well as stories from Maryknoll Missioners in communities on the margins around the world.
“Serving as a Maryknoll Lay Missioner with my wife and three daughters in a slum in Venezuela, I learned about the power and beauty of nonviolence from the women leaders of base Christian communities,” said Gerry Lee, director of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. “In our ten years in the barrios, we witnessed their creativity, courage and resilience against a government that labeled their community ‘illegal squatters’ and a Church that denied them Eucharist for being single mothers or not married in the Church.”
“Like Dr. Martin Luther King, these women discovered, while living through the actual experience of protest against structures that offered them nothing but misery and even death, that nonviolence is more than the approved method for change; it is a commitment to a way of life and a light in the darkness. With nonviolence, we each can be a light today."
Questions for Reflection
What do you want to turn away from and toward this Lenten season?
How do you respond to the invitation to a philosophy of nonviolence - a new path?
O Lord, for they shall be called
children of God.
We ask you, Lord, to forgive us
for the times we’ve caused division or
misunderstanding in our communities.
We know that communion is not
achieved through coercion,
but through constant conversion.
We ask for the grace to not speak ill,
not criticize, not to be sowers of strife,
so that peace can reign in our hearts.
From this conversion of the heart, Lord,
lead us to a version in actions.
incarnate the power of Gospel nonviolence.
Give us the imagination to overcome
all forms of violence with creative
Revive in our church’s theology of peace,
the nonviolent message of Jesus,
That once again our churches may be centers of learning for nonviolence and just peace,
centers of conversion from violence to
peace, and from loneliness to joy.
– “A Prayer for Conversion to Gospel Nonviolence” by the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, https://nonviolencejustpeace.net/
Turn off anything that supports violence on TV, movies, and the internet.
Grow in peace with yourself by fostering a spirit of gratitude instead of focusing on disappointments.
Adopt a nonviolent practice from the list “64 ways to practice nonviolence.” http://bit.ly/64waysNonviolence
Explore the website of The King Center for Nonviolent Social Change founded in 1968 by Coretta Scott King. http://www.thekingcenter.org/
A Maryknoll Missioner says...
“Among the Ilocano in the northern part of the Philippines where I come from, we greet each other with "Adda kayo," which literally translates to, "You are here." It also means, "I acknowledge your presence." When responded to with a yes, a nod, or a smile, the initial greeting would be followed by: "Naimbag met ta adda kayo." "It is good that you are here." The greeting speaks of appreciating, honoring, and valuing one another.
Acknowledging someone’s presence is essential to being fully present to that person. This mutual recognition of each other’s presence suggests the acceptance of one another and consequently, creates a feeling of belonging, of inclusion, of oneness and a well-being that is an experience of peace.”
– SISTER REBECCA MACUGAY, MM
Pictured center, with Sister Nena Heramil , MM (right) at permaculture farm in Panama. Photo courtesy of Sr. Macugay.