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17 February 2024

By Matthew Frizzell, Director of Human Resource Ministries

Therefore, they gave thanks unto the Lord, their God; yea, and they did fast much and pray much; and they did worship God with exceeding great joy.

Alma 21:2

Lent is a time of emptying. Nearly six weeks long, the emptiness of Lent holds a mystery. Lent lays bare the open secrets of this mystery.

The emptiness of Lent is not to punish us for our sins. It is not to expose our worthlessness or celebrate human depravity. On the contrary, God made all things good (Genesis 1:31). Lent is a reminder of our source of life and essential spirituality. Something about our humanity is both creaturely and divine. Humans are both free and dependent. The mystery of God’s image is woven into our humanness.

Lent draws us into this mystery with practices and meditations that aim at emptiness. Some fast from food or television. Others fast from complaining, social media, or the news. Each person is invited to pray and reflect in empty stillness. The aim is to empty and open ourselves to God’s presence for renewal.

Like being dragged into a paradox, Lent’s emptiness can fill us and make us whole. Fasting, our bodies feel the discomfort of emptiness. Removing distractions, we face the emptiness of our minds and mental lives. As emptiness settles in and matures, it reaches our emotions. The experience of emptiness is physical, mental, and emotional. It differs from our ordinary aims and aspirations for fulfillment. Lent’s emptiness puts our regular lives, agendas, longings, and wants in spiritual perspective.

The paradox of feeling Lent’s emptiness in its fullness unfolds our mystery. We are more than hunger. We are more than daily anxiety. We are more than our aspirations and wants. Neither food nor television, news nor complaining, social media nor daily activity, sustains us or makes us whole. Stripped down, laid bare, simplified, and emptied out, we can finally receive God’s gift to us. We are dependent on God and woven with God’s image. Emptiness is the path that takes us there.

Prayer Phrase

“…he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love” (Lamentations 3:32).

Spiritual Practice

Tears of Compassion

Offer a silent prayer for the gift of God’s compassion. Cup your hands and ask God to make you aware of the suffering that causes the Earth and its inhabitants to groan and weep. Be open to faces or places, sounds, or voices; feelings of connection with those who suffer. Imagine catching the tears of those you see and holding them in your hands. Listen for prayer images or words God may give you. Discern any active responses of ministry or healing you sense invited to complete for those who weep.

Today’s Prayer for Peace

Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.

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