An Alternative Devotion for Ash Wednesday
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”Matthew 16:24
We can not mark the beginning of our Lent Journey as we normally would on Ash Wednesday so instead we’re inviting you to make a St Bridgid Cross. This Cross can then be woven with seeds and planted out in your nearest Churchyard or in your garden to accompany you as you journey through Lent. Watch the video below or download the instructions.
‘Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit’(John 12:24)
Once you’ve planted your cross you can come and visit it once a week during our journey through lent and spend a few minutes in prayer and meditation talking to God about our journey with Christ. One such meditation is something called the ‘Examen’ which has been used by faithful Christian’s for centuries to talk to God about their lives and ask His help and guidance. As we journey through Lent you might like to use this as a way of reflecting upon your journey, marking your progress and working towards growing closer to God as you journey with him through this season.
The following Examen ask us about whether we are free or unfree. We are spiritually free when our spirutal and emotional state of being is healthy, when we are desirous of being faithful, hopeful and loving. We are spiritually unfree when our negative emotions and temptations have gotten the better of us. When we are too angry, sad, tempted or scared to think straight.
As you aproach your planted Bridgid Cross each week, spend a few moments making yourself aware of your surroundings, let God make his precense known in all that surrounds you and within you. Spend a few moments thinking of the past week since you were last here. Thank God for one or two of the blessing, big or small, that you have received in that time.
Now, focussing on one arm of the Bridgid Cross, look back on the week that’s been. Ask God “What was my most unfree moment?”. That is, at what moment was I being carried away by my own fears, resentments, cravings, addictions, anxieties or despairing thoughts?
In you prayerful imagination, return to that specific moment. Imagine God and yourself watching that moment together, side by side. God and you watch as your heart fills to the brim with the negative emotion that wept you away.
Focussing on the second arm of the Bridgid Cross, speak to God. Speak to him about what you saw, ask God for his forgiveness, or maybe for healing. Allow God to show you his perspective of the situation.
Is there anything that you sense God is trying to tell you about this? Talk with him about it and acknowledge your deepest emotions about it.
As you focus on the 3rd arm of the Bridgid Cross, look back again at the week. Ask “What was my most spiritually free moment?. In which moment did I feel and act free from negativity, low and earthly thoughts and emotions? At what point did I feel most alive and most in sync with God?
Focussing on the 4 and final arm of the Bridgid Cross, imagine yourself with God watching that grace-filled moment. Replay the moment in you prayerful imagination. Observe not only what happened, but also what was gong on deep in your heart.
Speak to God about this and allow Him to show you his perspective. Talk about it with God for a while, celebrate that moment with Him.
As you turn your focus to those seeds planted in the weave of the Cross, look with God to the week ahead of you. How can you journey into this next week and live out of that freedom that you felt in last weeks grace filled moment? What attitudes and behaviours will you need to adopt to avoid the pull of the unfree moment? What is God calling you to do to live in spiritual freedom?
Make whatever commitments you feel called to make. Ask for God’s help to keep those commitments.
Bring your Examen to an end as you widen your focus to encompas God’s precense all around you and within you and say the Diocesan Lent Prayer.