Arts & Faith: Lent—Ash Wednesday Imaginative Prayer Exercise

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Each week of Lent, we’ll provide an Ignatian prayer for you, inspired by a video from Arts & Faith: Lent. The video and prayer for Ash Wednesday are below.

“So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

—2 Corinthians 5:20

Preparation

As we begin this time of quiet prayer, I invite you to find a comfortable place to sit with your back straight and your legs planted on the ground. Allow yourself to notice your breathing as you breathe normally. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Take a few moments and close your eyes, preparing yourself to listen to what God may be saying to you during this prayer. As you sit with your eyes closed, use these or similar words: “Here I am, Lord. Here I am.” When you are ready, open your eyes and pray.

Be Reconciled to God

Imagine you are wandering along a busy, crowded downtown street in a large city. The sidewalks are crowded with people shopping, working, and strolling. There are a thousand different sounds coming at you at once: the blaring of car horns, the sounds from buses as they stop to pick up and drop off riders, and the muffled sounds of people as they talk to each other or on their phones. You wander through this throng of people and sounds, unable to connect or be present to the situation. You are wandering with a heavy heart. There is something gnawing at you that you need to deal with, but you just don’t know how or with whom. What are you carrying with you?

As you cross the street, a man sitting at the side of a building catches your eye. You’re not sure why, but he looks familiar to you. Something about him draws you to him. You’re not sure at first, but decide to walk up to him. He looks up at you. His eyes are so piercing, it’s hard to make eye contact with him. As you look more closely, he reminds you of a holy card of Jesus that you had as a child. You loved that card, because Jesus was looking straight at you with a smile on his face. As the man looks at you, a smile runs across his face. It’s so warm and inviting. What do you say to him?

You glance over at a cardboard sign beside him scrawled with these words: First forgive yourself. Then a river of forgiveness will flow through you. What does this mean to you? The man looks at you as you read the sign and speaks to you. What does he say? What do you say back to him? The two of you spend the next few minutes just being there with each other. You don’t understand why, but your heavy heart seems lifted. He smiles at you again and gets up to leave. You smile back. As you walk away, you turn back to say one last thing. What do you say to him?

What do you need to forgive yourself for so that you can forgive others?
Is there someone you want to bring to prayer this Lent who needs to receive God’s forgiveness?

Concluding Prayer

Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Amen.

Read a transcript of today’s video here. The art is Pieter Brueghel the Elder’s The Fight Between Carnival and Lent.

About Steve Connor 21 Articles
Steve Connor has served in various catechetical positions for over 30 years. As a pastoral associate, Steve worked with RCIA, adult education, and family faith formation. He has given numerous parish missions and retreats throughout the United States. Steve has a M.Div. from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

9 Comments on Arts & Faith: Lent—Ash Wednesday Imaginative Prayer Exercise

  1. I have enjoyed the rich combination of videos, art, meditation exercises, and prayers that I have found on this art and faith website. I’m planning on starting a prayerful art class at our First United Methodist Church. Do you have a DVDs and/or a book that goes along with this series? It would be a blessing for this class.
    Peace, Debby Kiel, Pastoral Care

    • Debby, the Arts & Faith: Lent series is exclusively online, but you are welcome to share the links with your class or play the videos during your sessions.

  2. These are just my gut reactions, brought on by Amy’s questions. I realised that I too find it difficult to forgive myself, but doing this reflection set in a train of thought. Is being unable to forgive myself in itself a type of sin. Jesus tells me that what I need to do is accept the Father’s forgiveness, is failing to forgive myself a rejection of God’s mercy, was this not the sin of Judas? I am not writing this to add further burden to anyone struggling with this, but working through this has left me free to look forward not back, and I pray it will do the same for others.
    Thank you Lord for your merciful forgiveness, Amen

    • Jan,
      I’m glad you found the meditation helpful. Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is ourselves.

      Blessings,
      Steve Connor

    • Georgiana,
      Thank you for stopping by. I wish you many blessings and surprises as you journey towards Easter.

      Blessings,
      Steve Connor

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