Lent 2016: Pray - Study - Act
In This Issue
PRAY: This is the fast that pleases me
STUDY: Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent
ACT: Watch the video "I am Miriam" and take action to end human trafficking
Quick Links
Join our list
First Week of Lent, February 14-20, 2016
Earlier this week, on the eve of Ash Wednesday, I posted the following quote from American monk Thomas Merton on our Facebook page:

"Do not be too quick to assume that your enemy is an enemy of God just because he is your enemy. Perhaps he is your enemy precisely because he can find nothing in you that gives glory to God. Perhaps he fears you because he can find nothing in you of God's love and God's kindness and God's patience and mercy and understanding of the weaknesses of people.
   "Do not be too quick to condemn people who no longer believe in God, for it is perhaps your own coldness and avarice, your mediocrity and materialism, your sensuality and selfishness that have killed their faith."

The quote seemed to resonate with people, getting shared over 150 times and reaching over 15,000 people. It seems to me a fitting meditation on which to begin Lent -- especially the call to a thorough self-examination, one which measures us against the example for which we strive, Jesus himself. 
   And it also seems to be apropos to our national conversations, played out against the background of an election year. So much of that conversation is predicated on playing to people's fears about each other, seeking to tap that fear and fan the flames of anger, leading ultimately to greater division. 
  So as we enter into this first week of Lent, maybe we can embrace an introspection that leads us to more deeply commit ourselves to the practice of the peace of Christ. It is clear that our world needs such witnesses. 
   This is the first of our Pray-Study-Act e-bulletins for Lent. We'll be sending them out a few days before the week for which they're prepared so that you may have the opportunity to choose resources for yourself, your family, small faith community, religious congregation, school and church. We have set up a special Lent 2016 webpage with more resources which we hope will deepen the experience of Lent for you.  These e-bulletins, as well as reflections for each Sunday and Holy Day (like this one from Sr. Anne-Louise Nadeau, SNDdeN for Ash Wednesday), will be archived alongside additional resources on our Lent 2016 page
    We hope that the peace of Christ dwells deeply in your hearts during this Lenten season.

In peace,

Johnny Zokovitch
Director of Communications, Pax Christi USA
 PRAY: This is the fast that pleases me...
From the Archdiocese of Chicago (1983)


This is the fast that pleases me:

to break unjust fetters,
to let the oppressed go free,
to share your bread with the hungry
and shelter the homeless poor.
If you do away with the yoke, 
the clenched fist, the wicked word, 
if you give your bread to the hungry
and relief to the oppressed, 
your light will rise in the darkness. (Isaiah 58:6-7, 10)


All praise be yours, God our Creator,
as we wait in joyful hope
for the flowering of justice
and the fullness of peace.
All praise for this day, this season.
By our weekly fasting and prayer
cast out the spirit of war, of fear and mistrust,
and make us grow hungry for human kindness, 

thirsty for solidarity with all the people of your dear earth.
May all our prayer, our fasting and our deeds
be done in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent
By B. Kwame Assenyoh, SVD

Here there is no difference between Jew and Greek; all have the same Creator, rich in mercy toward those who call. (Rom 10:12)

Peter Phan, a theology professor at Georgetown University, recently wrote that the early Christians continued to consider themselves as paroikoi, the Greek term for "foreigners", even after they had found a home among the settled Jews. As foreigners, Christians by nature are called not to settle, because settling would lead to spiritual death. Rather, led by their sense of being foreigners, Christians would find their own migration as a normal and healthy way to live, to grow and to survive; and they can, in turn, recognize and treat other migrants with the same compassion they have experienced. This year, we enter the First Week of Lent with the call to repent or renew our minds about the way we understand and act toward immigrants and migration into our country. Phan's point above helps us to see in our readings today why we should see migration as an essential phenomenon of the Christian life... 

ACT: Watch the video "I am Miriam" and
take action to end human trafficking
from Education for Justice

This week, Education for Justice released three special bonus educational resources regarding the scourge of human trafficking, an urgent social justice issue and a crime against humanity:
  • I Am Miriam, an anti-human trafficking video, which EFJ Editor Sr. Dianna Ortiz, O.S.U., wrote and produced;
  • a companion website, Against Humanity, with a variety of resources in the methodology of the Center of Concern's Pastoral Circle to aid in preventing, detecting, and responding to human trafficking;
  • a prayer service that draws inspiration from the life and witness of St. Josephine Bakhita, whom many venerate as the patron of trafficked persons.
The video shares a recent personal account of human trafficking and torture from the perspective of a woman from Ethiopia named Miriam, a friend of Dianna. To view this video, visit the  Against Humanity website.
   The release of these resources comes during the week of three significant observances in the Catholic Church: the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking; the Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita; and the commencement of Lent, a season for reflection and renewal.
   EFJ invites you to share and discuss the I Am Miriam video in your homes, classrooms, parishes, and workplaces so that, together, we can shine a light on this modern worldwide form of slavery. You can click here for ideas to take action to end human trafficking.