Dear Friends, 

Can you believe that with the first Sunday of Lent this year we are beginning our ninth year together? We feel truly blessed and called forth to be our best selves in your midst.

Every year during Lent

we celebrate a Communal Rite of Reconciliation. God dreams that we have life and love ever more abundantly. We look at ourselves honestly and see how we can continue growing in life and love. In today’s gospel, Jesus chases the moneychangers out of the temple.                                            Do you think of your being as a temple? How can you and I drive the marketplace mentality out of our lives? How can we make the temple of our bodies, the temple of our beings, the temple of our lives more focused on being our best selves, which I interpret to be more sacred, more holy.

We wanted to share for your reflection the communal examination of conscience and communal confession we will use today at Eucharist.

Communal examination of conscience:

    Based on the Prayer attributed to St. Francis

All:  Make me a channel of your peace.

Jean: Have I tried to be a peacemaker?                                  

Have I resisted the temptation to disrupt others?         

Have I prayed for world peace?

All:  Make me a channel of your peace.

Ron:  Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Jean: Have I given space to hatred in my life?                                  

Have I been unkind or even cruel in my dealings with others?

Have I tried to teach children to love and respect all others?

All:  Make me a channel of your peace.

Ron:  Where there is injury, pardon.

Jean: Have I forgiven those who have wronged me?       

Have I been kind to others?

All:  Make me a channel of your peace.

Ron:  Where there is doubt, faith.

Jean: Have I encouraged someone who needed support? 

Have I practiced my faith well?                                                          

Have I been a good example of gospel living in my family and in the workplace?

All:  Make me a channel of your peace.

Ron: Where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

Jean: Have I comforted someone who was sad?                        

Do I bring joy and hope to those around me?

All:  Make me a channel of your peace.

Ron: Let us pray together now in the words of St. Francis of Assisi

All:  O Divine Lover, grant that I may seek not so much to be consoled, as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love;

for it is in giving that we receive;

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

Jean: God of peace we are here to experience your forgiveness and your love. 

Hear us now as we turn to you for comfort and healing

Communal Confession:

Gracious and merciful God, we come to you aware of ways in which we have heard and responded to your call in our lives and aware of ways in which we have not listened well to what you ask of us.

In our humanness, we sometimes fall short or turn away from your grace.

We ask your forgiveness for what we have done wrongfully, or left undone and we ask your help in doing better.

Keep us mindful of seeing ourselves and others with your loving gaze,

and open our hearts to more fully embrace your loving mercy.                                               

We make our prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen

Words of Absolution:

Loving and merciful God, through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus,

we have been shown how to live with integrity and with a thirst for justice.

Through your Holy Spirit we have been strengthened to follow the path of Jesus and of your Love.

May your love and Jesus’ example lead us to a deepening awareness of our connection to you and to one another.  

May our awareness lead us to choose wisely in all our interactions and relationships,

making the reign of God evident to our world.

Through the ministry of the Church,

may we experience God’s loving pardon and peace. 

Our book discussion for Lent is The Way of the Cross: The Path to New Life by Joan Chittister. This meditative walk leads us through the traditional Stations of the Cross and invites us to consider our personal life path.    We invite you to bring to liturgy an element that symbolizes for you what life “station” you discern yourself to be at as you journey through this Lent. For instance, people sometimes ask me (Ron) if I am going to retire. As I reflect on this “station” in my life and discern ‘which way to go when,’ Matthew Fox’s call to action: “refirement” not retirement comes to mind. One symbol of refirement for me is captured in the “fire” of a candle. So I am going to bring a candle to our Lenten community collage that we will build in front of the altar again this year. Everyone is invited to add their symbol to the Lenten community sculpture we will build in front of the altar as we prepare to celebrate Liturgy; and if you are not with us ‘physically’ perhaps you might bring your symbol to your own ‘quiet corner’ at home!

As you enter the sanctuary space tonight before Eucharist throughout Lent, we ask you to enter in silence into the quiet meditative space with reflective soft music. In keeping with our movement into a meditative Lenten spirit, our communion meditation will be Taize chant.

Come and journey with The Spirit of Life community during your Lenten journey...and beyond. Come and make us your ‘spiritual home’.  In our community’s midst you will find support for your inner spirit’s growth. We promise you a unique experience of community; one where members and guests find support and hope in the journey through time and body to deepen our spiritual lives, and work together to transcend our limitations and grow in faith. Our liturgies are not “cluttered’ with non-inclusive language and messages that discount the dignity of all people. Rather, we are radically simple in embodying the “good news” of Jesus Christ... “uncluttered” by messages caught in the moral time warp so present in more traditional Catholic liturgies. At the Spirit of life... the call of women to ordained priesthood is affirmed...the sacredness of all loving relationships is honored and celebrated, and as Jesus did, we welcome ALL to the Table!   If you are seeking a Catholic community where you do not need to mentally/silently “insert” inclusive language into your prayer at Mass, or lament that your children are hearing non-loving messages about people whose sexual orientation is other than heterosexual, or feel that your “voice” is not heard.....we invite you to come and experience life in our community. We are an inclusive and interactive community, where everyone has a “voice.”  We are truly a people of “justice & Joy.”

May your heart be open to and nourished by the blessings of this Lenten journey,

Ron & Jean